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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 May, 2004, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Minister begs Zambian stars
By Kennedy Gondwe
BBC Sport, Lusaka

Zambia and Cologne's Moses Sichone
Moses Sichone is yet to agree terms on playing for Zambia

The Zambian government has appealed to the overseas-based players who have refused to play for the Chipolopolo to re-consider their stance.

Three players Gift Kampamba, Mwape Miti and Moses Sichone have declined to play against Togo on 5 June in a 2006 World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifier for various reasons.

Kampamba, who plays for Rostov in Russia says he will not play for Zambia until he is paid the US $1,600 owed to him by the football association.

Striker Miti, who is with Danish side OB Odense, insists he has retired from international football while FC Cologne defender Sichone has not agreed his playing terms with the association.

Sports minister Reverend Gladys Nyirongo says that the players should be more patriotic.

"I think these professionals must know that playing for their country is an honour," she told BBC Sport.

"We can't be begging for our own children."

She said the players must travel for the qualifier against Togo because the game was crucial.

However Rev. Nyirongo vowed that the government will not bow to the players demands.

She said the overseas-based stars must learn to "pay back" their country.

"Look at George Weah, he did so much for his country without asking for anything from Liberia," she pointed out.

"He even sponsored the entire national team, this is what out players must learn to do."

Mwansa Mbulakulima a spokesperson for the Football Association of Zambia could not comment on the matter saying it was "sensitive."

He did add that the association's executive are meeting on Wednesday to discuss the players' demands.

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