With the Quatar 2022 World Cup done and dusted, Zambia’s most decorated referee Janny Sikazwe is set to hang up his whistle as evidenced from the omission on the list of 16 Zambian referees appointed on the FIFA panel for next year.
And FAZ referees manager Azipah Banda has hailed Sikazwe for his successful officiating at the just- ended FIFA World Cup.
Prior to the World Cup, Sikazwe hinted on retiring from active refereeing to take up other roles of developing referees in Zambia.
It has now become evident that Sikazwe would no longer be the centre referee in the coming years as he does not appear on the 16 Zambian referees on the FIFA panel list for the year 2023.
The Kapiri Mposhi- based referee has officiated at the highest level having also officiated at the Russia 2018 World Cup FIFA World Club Championship finals and Africa Cup of Nations.
Sikazwe has officiated in the CAF Inter Club Championships and not forgetting the Zambian , Premier League and Cup competition.
Banda said in an interview yesterday that Sikazwe was still in FAZ plans as he would be assigned other roles.
The manager could not confirm nor deny Sikazwe’s retirement but stated that an announcement would be made in due course.
“We still have plans for Sikazwe. He will be assigned other roles in the referee department. His career has been a success and he has lived the dream of every referee officiating at the highest level,” Banda said.
Banda said Sikazwe has been exceptional in his career and led the way for Zambian referees to follow despite the challenges he has faced.
“If he is retiring, then we shall support him. It is always good to leave the stage while people are still clapping. He has had challenges here and there but overall he has been exceptional,” Banda said.
Meanwhile, Banda expressed happiness that there has been an increase by one referee on the 2023 FIFA panel list.
“This year we had 15 listed and next year we shall have 16 on the FIFA panel. An increase is an indication that we are doing something right. Those slots don’t come easy but come from hard work,” Banda said.
He added that out of the 16 listed, two referees in Hillary Hamababa and Tryson Mwape were being listed for the first time.
Banda advised the referees to remain professional in their duties and fair play should be exercised at all times.
“My world to referees is always for them to be professional and ensure fair play. They should never officiate to impress football managers or fans that at times don’t understand the rules of the game and interpret them wrongly. Referees are in class twice a week revising the laws of the game,” Banda said.
The FIFA referee panel includes seven centre referees that have made the FIFA international panel for the 2023 calendar while 10 have been pencilled for the assistant’s role.
The referees picked are Audrick Nkole, Mathews Hamalila, Tryson Mwape, Patience Mumba, Gloría Sambumba and Hillary Hambaba with Mwape and Hambaba to make their international debut on the FIFA panel.
The assistant referees’ panel has usual customers in Diana Chikotesha, Mercy Zulu, Chansa Kabwe, Chiwoyu Sinyangwe, Naphtally. Banda, Gertrude Nyirenda, Thomas Kaela, Meck Zulu, Trywell Nyirenda and Nancy Kasitu.