CHIPOLOPOLO coach Herve Renard says lack of club activity by key players cost Zambia's game against Lesotho.
And sports minister Chishimba Kambwili says the government will withdraw its support to the Zambia national soccer team if they do not qualify to next year's World Cup and continue to perform below par.
Renard said it was unfortunate that Zambia could only settle for a 1-all draw against Lesotho in Sunday's World Cup qualifier.
"It's not a good result," Renard in an interview in Maseru.
Renard warned Zambia might regret the two points they dropped against Lesotho.
"It is all in the details at the end of the road for the qualifiers, maybe we will regret this result," he said. "Maybe we will regret the loss of these two points but there is a lot of explanation to be done. Unfortunately, we have only seven points at the end of the day. All because I changed three players and we scored, what did you want me to do? It was a tactic to play the way we did but for you it will be difficult to understand. If we lost today in Zambia, it is because we are tactically poor."
Renard, who defended his decision to sideline in-form teenage midfielder Mukuka Mulenga, regretted that a number of players in his team were not active at their clubs.
"I think Mukuka Mulenga is not the real Mukuka Mulenga since the league has just opened in Zambia," he said. "Chisamba Lungu did not play a lot…you have to understand that in this team we have so many players who are not playing. Stoppilla Sunzu, why did he miss the header? He is one metre 90 centimetres, he was not supposed to miss the header, the goal is behind him and Kennedy Mweene got the red card. These are the small details in football. His problems of TP Mazembe affect a lot the national team."
Zambia leads Group D on seven points with Ghana in second place with six points. Lesotho are third at two points while Sudan occupy the bottom with one point.
Lesotho coach Leslie Notsi said the draw was a big achievement for the Crocodiles considering the magnitude of Zambia.
With Ghana beating Sudan 4-0, Chipolopolo have no margin of error going into return fixtures of the qualifiers starting in June.
Zambia will host Lesotho and Sudan on June 8 and 15 respectively before the crucial away tie in Kumasi in September.
And Kambwili said that the performance of the national team was unacceptable and below the standard befitting of the 2012 Africa Champions.
Kambwili said he would soon call for a meeting with Football Association of Zambia and do a postmortem of the team's recent dismal performance both at the Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
He said those found wanting in causing the team's poor showing will be dealt with.
On Sunday a determined Lesotho held Zambia to a 1-all draw after scoring a late equaliser in the 2014 World Cup qualifier at Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.
The minister was commenting what he called "Chipolopolo depressing performance."
"The performance of the national team is unacceptable and below standards; their performance at the moment can only be described as rubbish. If they do not qualify to the World Cup, they risk losing government support. We cannot continue being mare participants and not qualifiers. They cannot hide in anything as we are giving them all they need as a team. We allow them to go and prepare and train anywhere they want but they are no inspiring us in any way. I am extremely disappointed and upset that we have continued to draw, a thing that cost us at the Africa Cup," mourned Kambwili.
He said the government would not continue to putting taxpayers' money in a bottomless pit without results, adding: "Football in Zambia is politics, some people even collapse in support of the game. These boys must know that we cannot continue drawing all the time; at the Africa Cup Of Nations we were eliminated because of draws yet we have continued to draw. As things stand I am doubtful that we are going to qualify, I am extremely doubtful."
He said the government is spending a lot of money in meeting the team's needs hence will not tolerate sub-standard output.