We never even left Zambia – Rainford Kalaba

We never even left Zambia – Rainford Kalaba

Zambian authorities have refused to allow three Zambia internationals to leave the country to return to their club in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rainford Kalaba, Stoppila Sunzu and Nathan Sinkala have been told to report to immigration officials in Ndola.

The TP Mazembe stars missed Zambia’s friendly against Brazil in China in midweek amid a row over their fitness and were alleged to have gone missing.

On Tuesday Zambia issued warrants for the players to be arrested.

Zambian officials said the trio had secretly travelled back from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier in the week after they did not travel with the squad from Lusaka to Beijing.

Namati Nshinka, Zambia’s Department of Immigration public relations officer, said in a statement: “The Department (of Immigration) intends tScreen Shot 2013-10-18 at 16.45.38o arrest the players and anyone who may have aided their illegal crossing.”

However, Kalaba told BBC Sport on Friday that the players never left Zambia and insisted they have done nothing wrong.

“We never went back to Lubumbashi, we stayed in Zambia,” Kalaba said. “I went to Ndola, while Sunzu and Sinkala stayed in Lusaka because they have houses there.

“There were rumours that we had disappeared because no-one knew where we were, but we had only switched off our phones because of all the attention.”

On Friday the players were turned away from the border when they tried to return to DR Congo and join up with their club in Lubumbashi for this weekend’s Confederation Cup semi-final second leg against Stade Malien.

But Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya has told BBC Sport he believes the players would not be available to play for their club anyway because he feels Mazembe refused to comply with Fifa’s request for the players to be released for international duty.

If that is the case, the players would not be able to play for Mazembe within five days of the international, ruling them out of Saturday’s game.

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