Two Zambian players injured in SA
Two Zambia players were hurt when the African champion's team bus was stoned by two youths late Wednesday following a friendly win over South Africa.
Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene needed stitches in his head after the bus windows were shattered by ''huge rocks'' as the team left Johannesburg's Soccer City for its hotel, the Football Association of Zambia said on Thursday. Midfielder Felix Katongo was also injured.
''Very sad that the Zambian bus was stoned and Kennedy Mweene sustained a head injury,'' the FAZ said. ''Has had stitches and is OK, but the incident was shameful.''
The South African Football Association told The Associated Press that two boys, aged 12 and 13, were apprehended outside the stadium immediately after the stoning.
''SAFA condemns the incident in the strongest possible terms,'' association spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said, adding the youths were in police custody. A case of malicious damage to property had been opened.
In a later statement, SAFA moved to dispel any fears that it raised questions over security arrangements for the African Cup of Nations in South Africa in January and February.
SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani said it was an ''isolated incident,'' while Cup of Nations head organizer, Mvuzo Mbebe, said the attack wouldn't affect the tournament's planning, which was proceeding ''smoothly.''
''The security around the team was the high level security that the SAPS (South African Police Service) and traffic police provides to all visiting teams,'' SAFA said.
Goalkeeper Mweene, who plays club football in South Africa, received treatment from team medical staff on the Zambia bus. Katongo was thought to have only minor injuries.
Zambia had beaten South Africa 1-0 at the 94,700-capacity Soccer City, the former World Cup venue which will host the opening game and the final at next year's African Cup.
The attack on the bus completed a troubled night for the host's preparations after its disjointed team was outplayed by Zambia on a pitch that was in a poor state following a rock concert.
New South Africa coach Gordon Igesund conceded there was much work to do ahead of Africa's top tournament, which kicks off on Jan. 19 when the host plays Cape Verde back at Soccer City.
''I've had the team for three months, five games and eight training sessions, which is very difficult,'' Igesund said. ''We are not a team yet.''