Football Sport

Bankers make big league statement

Bola Biz
COPPERBELT commentator Leonard Chibansa Mwila and football analyst Iva Mumba Lengwe were company in the commentary box for the fixture that involved Super Division leaders Zanaco and early pace-setters Nkana.
I arrived at National Heroes Stadium to join the ZNBC radio crew. The 50, 000 plus seater masterpiece was hosting its first ever league match.
Fans came from far and wide, the stadium swallowing roughly 20,000 of them.
Prior to the eagerly anticipated re-arranged Week Seven Super Division match, there was a six points gap separating the two sides.
In the last 10 matches between Nkana and Zanaco from 2010 there was little to separate them. Four draws and three wins apiece. In that time, there has only been one barren draw.
Nkana needed to force the issue. Buoyed by a big 4-1 victory over impressive Patrick Phiri’s Forest Rangers, the sea of red that descended upon the National Heroes Stadium expected to witness a narrowing of the gap to at least three points. But with the 12-time champions yet to win in Lusaka this term, it was a tall order.
Zanaco are in the form of their lives evidenced in the 6-0 bashing of Mufulira Blackpool a week prior to this fixture.
Nkana key man Walter Bwalya, strangely, drifted wide as his namesake Simon Bwalya played as a false number nine.
The speedy Simon had helped himself to a brace as skipper of the day in the match against Forest.
Perhaps, this convinced coach Aggrey Chiyangi to hand the former Power Dynamos man that cardinal role.
Simon has the intelligence for it. But Walter is a more clinical finisher by comparison.
Captain Donashano Malama and the nifty Jacob Ngulube walked straight into the Nkana starting 11 after the COSAFA Cup nightmare with the national team in Namibia.
Mumamba Numba resisted throwing the COSAFA flops into the fray. Only Charles Zulu started, replacing injury sidelined Rodrick Kabwe. Salulani Phiri was on the bench while Racha Kola was not far from the commentary box in the stands with his younger brother, Roger.
Nkana missed some sitters at times with only Toaster Nsabata, who was restored to the line-up ahead of young Mangani Banda who kept a clean sheet in the Blackpool romp, to beat.
In stoppage time of the first half, Nkana fell behind. The defence, which until now had been rock solid, curved. Joseph Musonda, Christopher Munthali, Diego Apanene and Malama were at sea.
Aubrey Funga’s finish in the box was criminal. Funga had harvested a hat-trick against Blackpool and needed to be policed with an eagle eye.
But he was given the green light to nod past Scott Ngokene with ease to register his sixth goal of this campaign. Funga hid the ball inside his shirt simulating a pregnancy.
FIFA referee Jan Sikazwe brought proceedings of the first stanza to a halt shortly after. In the commentary box, Chibansa asked if there was a way back for Kalampa who were staring down the barrel of a fourth defeat of the season.
Probably, playing Walter centrally would help. Probably, Chiyangi could call upon teenage Harrison Musonda Chisala, Spencer Ngalande or Freddy Tshimenga with the mantra to turn the tide of the game off the bench.
As is often the case with Kalampa, the noise from the stands was defeaning in the second stanza. It was not clear whether the cacophony was created by some political party regalia, clad cadres (FAZ take note) or fans of the Kitwe giants who were yearning for a revival.
But it was Zanaco who rattled the post with Saith Sakala. Nkana were restricted to arm’s length set pieces which were wasted.
In the 65th minute, an exchange that involved the influential Isaac Chansa arrived on the feet of Fashion Sakala.
Sakala rifled in the roof of the net. It was a sucker punch which probably could be knocking the Kitwe giants out of the title race.
The rest of the match was pedestrian. In that time, Numba had even re-jigged his back four, resting Aaron Katebe for Phiri.
But the central defensive pairing George Chilufya and captain Ziyo Tembo with left back Fackson Kapumbu were rarely troubled. Even the introduction of Tshimenga and Chisala did not bring the desired effect.
The Bankers triumphed and made a big statement in the title race at the half-way mark.
Chibansa, in the commentary box, bellowed out the disappointment many Nkana fans felt at the Wusakili side slipping nine points behind the league leaders.
Contact: email: musochi2000@gmail.com, Facebook: Chibulu Ba Muzo Musonda Twitter: muzochibz Instagram: bamuzozed.

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