BOLA-BIZ with Musonda Chibulu
AS Zanaco head to Egypt for a date against Al Ahly for the Champions League Group D match, Mumamba Numba must be smiling silently.
After a barren draw against Rwanda Patriotic Army at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, the
Bankers were written off like a vehicle battered in an accident beyond repair.
But as the Zambian champions head to North Africa, they are only a point from the summit of the Super Division.
Sunday’s demolition of Nakambala Leopards was a testament of the good work Numba has done in the last few weeks. The 4-1 win over Nakambala Leopards was made to look so easy.
International midfielder Augustine Mulenga looked like a championship winning horse running on a full engine all afternoon providing three assists.
New striker Felix Nyaende opened his account too. There was even a disallowed goal.
Exciting and fast-improving winger Ernest Mbewe was denied a brace.
Referee Wisdom Chewe chalked off the goal which could have been the opener because when the corner was taken by Mulenga, the ball had swivelled out of play in the air before being elevated onto the field.
The time Mbewe was meeting it with his head; the first assistant referee had already flagged for a goal kick.
Chewe and his assistant must be cut the flak. Most believed the goal was chalked off due to an offside call. Never in the world was it offside. But the ball had gone out.
Undeterred, Zanaco poured forward like water cascading down the Victoria Falls in May.
The goals rained down with midfielders Richard Kasonde and Kennedy Musonda joining the goal-scoring party.
The only blemish was the one goal conceded. Recalled Zambia international Ignatius Lwipa pulled a facesaver against the run of play.
The finish was exquisite. The 31-year-old Lwipa, a former employee of the Bankers before trekking to Power Dynamos and later joining Nakambala for this season, got his second goal of the campaign escaping the attention of a Zanaco defender to squeeze the ball between Toaster Nsabata and the near post.
Lwipa, on the balance of this goal, can continue to flourish to convince doubting ‘Thomases’ Zambia boss Wedson Nyirenda was spot on to hand him a recall to the Chipolopolo.
Given that Zanaco and Zesco United players will not be available for the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Senior Challenge Cup next month, the experience and form of Lwipa can be cardinal for the local Chipolopolo.
The 4-1 win for the Bankers, though, was the fillip needed for the North Africa challenge this weekend.
Coming off the back of the 6-0 mauling of once ‘Mighty’ Mufulira Wanderers, Zanaco are now the top scorers in the Super Division. Numba’s has a return of 14 goals from five matches so far.
That is a squad that lost Roderick Kabwe and Aubrey Funga to Cape Town Ajax, Dave Daka and Fackson Kapumbu to Zesco, Mwelwa Sakala to Power Dynamos, Aaron Katebe to Nkana, Isaac Chansa to Iraq but now in the South African second tier with Royal Eagles and starlet Fashion Sakala to Spartak Moscow of Russia.
Against Nakambala, Numba was without under-20 midfielder Boyd Musonda and substitute goalkeeper Mangani Banda.
The pair is away in Spain getting ready for the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea starting on May 20. Add the injured Charles Zulu, that’s an entire first 11.
But Numba has managed to get the team back on track and they look menacing on the attack with every player lining up to score.
Saith Sakala and Kennedy Musonda have three goals each in the harvest of 14. Mbewe and Kasonde have two apiece.
Captain Ziyo Tembo, Boyd Musonda, Augustine Mulenga and Nyaende have netted one each.
The backline usually marshalled around Tembo and George Chilufya, Taonga Bwembya and Chongo Chirwa or Zimbabwean Zimisileni Moyo, who can also slot into the anchorman role, has shipped four in the league but only once in Africa.
Against Al Ahly, that back door to either Nsabata or Racha Kola needs to be firmly shut.
The Egyptians, the most successful club in this competition with eight titles, are leading the Egypt Premier League.
They are extremely dangerous customers. Given the manner of their exit at the hands of a Zambian club in Zesco in last season’s competition, revenge may be on their minds.
However, on recent form, the Bankers can roar, “Bring on Al Ahly!”
After reviving a campaign that started with critics dismissing the Bankers’ chances both in the league and the continental competition, the Bankers can play without so much pressure.
As for Zesco against Smouha in the Confederations Cup, it should be a fairly easier assignment in Ndola.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook: Chibulu ‘Ba Muzo’ Musonda, Twitter: muzochibz; Instagram: bamuzozed.