Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
COPPERBELT fans turned up in numbers for the Barclays Cup quarter-final matches in Kitwe over the weekend.
The attendance at Arthur Davies Stadium on Saturday and Sunday was overwhelming.
All the four quarter-final matches lived up to expectation.
On Saturday, Division One side Young Buffaloes caused an upset beating Zanaco 2-1 while Nkana edged five-time Barclays Cup winners Zesco United by a similar margin.
On Sunday, Green Buffaloes were too strong for Green Eagles in an all-defence force affair and Power Dynamos overcame ‘Mighty’Mufulira Wanderers 5-4 on post-match penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.
The full turn by fans shows that Zambians are craving to watch cup competitions.
At the moment, the Barclays Cup is the only silverware competition in the land.
MTN Zambia are the sponsors of the Super Division.
The Barclays Cup pits topflight sides and Division One teams.
Time is ripe for the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to find companies to sponsor cup competitions.
The FAZ Premier League is too big to have only one competition.
Division Two, Three and amateur teams are looking forward to competing in cup competitions.
I remember Lusaka Celtic, then campaigning in Division One, defying odds to win the Mosi Cup in 2004.
This is what competition can bring out.
I have trust that FAZ president Andrew Kamanga and his executive committee will lure as many sponsors as possible to sponsor cup competitions.
The executive committee comprises men and women who have business connections and can knock on doors of several companies.
I want to see the FAZ calendar full of cup competitions.
In the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, the BP Top Eight, Coca-Cola Cup, Mosi Cup, Independence Cup, Chibuku Cup (Heroes and Unity) were featuring prominently on the FAZ schedule.
Just as the Charity Shield opens the season, the Champion of Champions which was contested by the top four Super Division teams, effectively closed the season.
There was also the Rothmans of Pall-sponsored the Rest vs All Stars climaxing the season.
These competitions were also used by Super Division teams to tap talent from lower sides.
Nkana spotted striker Kelvin Mutale, who was featuring for Division One side Nitrogen Stars in a cup competition in 1991.
Nkana immediately lured Mutale to Kitwe and the player, who was nicknamed Malaza, spent only one season in Wusakile township and trekked to Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately, Mutale was among 18 national team players and 12 officials who died when a Zambia Air Force Buffalo plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in April 1993 in Libreville, Gabon.
The issue of finding sponsors for cup competitions should be treated with the urgency it deserves because fans have shown that they can fill to capacity various stadiums in the country.
I will be failing the football family if I do not congratulate Zesco United for retraining the Super Division title and qualifying for the CAF Champions League.
Second-placed Nkana, with 72 points, have also clinched qualification to represent Zambia on the continent while Eagles (68 points), Buffaloes (68 points) and Zanaco (64 points) are all chasing for the remaining two slots.
The country will be represented by two teams in the Champions League and two in the Confederation Cup.
Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI