Sport

Black weekend for football

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
IT WAS indeed a black weekend for Zambian football with all the four clubs competing in the Africa inter-club competitions getting eliminated.
Zesco United and Nkana were knocked out of the CAF Champions League after losing 2-1 on aggregate to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) side TP Mazembe and 4-3 over two legs to Simba of Tanzania respectively.
The two sides have now dropped to the Confederation Cup.
Green Buffaloes lost 4-2 on aggregate to Tunisian side Club Sportif Sfaxien of Tunisia while Green Eagles went down 2-1 over two legs to Nasr Athletique Hussein Dey of Algeria, hence the description of a black weekend.
I was confident Zesco and Nkana would make it to the group stage but it was not meant to be.
Zesco scored an early goal against Mazembe in the first round return leg at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola through goal-poacher Lazarus Kambole only for veteran Tresor Mputu to equalise after the break.
Zesco were let down by a porous defence while goalkeeper Jacob Banda was outstanding.
Since Mazembe are not in the class of seven years ago, I expected Zesco to win but most of the players did not come to the party on that day and the Ndola giants were eliminated.
I expect Zesco to approach the Confederation Cup with the hunger to succeed so that come next May, the trophy will be brought to Zambia for the second time following Power Dynamos’ triumph in 1991.
Power beat BBC Lions of Nigeria 5-4 on aggregate to win what was then called the Nelson Mandela Cup.
Having reached the quarter-finals of Africa’s second tier competition last year, I expect Zesco to go for glory this time around as a way of making up for the Champions League disappointment.
For Nkana, they could have beaten Simba in Dar es Salaam on Sunday but they lacked the finishing touch and exhibited tactical naivety.
With the match tied 3-3 on aggregate, Nkana created some scoring opportunities with Walter Bwalya being the chief culprit leaving Cletus Chama to have the last laugh with a backheel that beat goalkeeper Allan Chibwe for Simba to win 4-3 on aggregate.
It was painful to lose to a Tanzanian side who last competed in the Champions League group stage in 2003.
For Buffaloes, I was sure they could not score the three unanswered goals needed to remain in the competition.
Buffaloes lost 4-1 in Sfax but only managed a 1-0 victory in Lusaka.
It was an improvement for Buffaloes to reach the first round because they were eliminated in the preliminary round of the same competition in February this year.
They lost 5-2 on aggregate to Egyptian side Al Masry.
Eagles shocked Zambians when they took the lead in Algiers but Hussein Dey equalised before half-time and got the clincher in added time.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com






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