Football Sport

Fashion confident

ROBINSON KUNDA, ALEX NJOVU, Lusaka
ZANACO striker Fashion Sakala says the departure of several key players affected the team’s performance in Saturday’s CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg against Rwanda Patriotic Army (APR).
Sakala said in an interview after a goalless draw with APR at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka that the mass exodus of players has ‘shaken Zanaco’.
“That is a problem for my team. Many good players left and I am also leaving but there is no player who is bigger than the team. Even the players who are still there are very good,” said Sakala, who has joined Russian First National League side Spartak 2 Moscow on a three-year deal.
Some of the players that have gone for ‘greener pastures’ are Isaac Chansa, Roderick Kabwe, Fackson Kapumbu, Salulani Phiri, Aubrey Funga and Dave Daka.
Sakala, however, is confident that Zanaco could beat APR in Saturday’s return leg in Kigali.
“We just have to be focused, it’s not over. We can still score away and beat them [APR]. I believe we still have a good team,” he said.
And Zanaco coach Mumamba Numba is confident his charges will qualify for the first round despite a shaky start.
“Our chances of qualifying to the next round are at 50-50. When we get a scoring draw in Rwanda we will pull through. We played a good game against a tough side that feeds Rwanda with national team players and that participates in the Champions League every year,” Numba said.
He said his players were jittery in the first half.
“We were playing long balls and this disadvantaged us as they [APR] are tall. It is when we put the ball on the ground that we made a difference,” Numba said.
He said APR are beatable.
Numba said debutants – defenders Taonga Bwembya and Chongo Chirwa and forward Kennedy Musonda – accounted for themselves well.
He said the Bankers could have won the match had the strikers utilised a myriad of scoring opportunities.
“He also said the absence of the players that have left the club did not affect the team.
“In fact their departure is a blessing to us. We are not a selfish club. We did not want to hold on to the players when an opportunity came. When a player goes out they make money,” Numba said.
Zanaco skipper Ziyo Tembo is upbeat his troops will rise to the occasion in the return leg.
Meanwhile, APR coach Jimmy Mulisa is happy with the draw.
“We played an open game. We did not want to defend. We are going to have a different approach in the return leg. We played against a good team. We are happy that we did not lose in Zambia,” Mulisa said.
APR captain Rushesha Ngoga warned Zanaco to expect a tough match in the return leg.
Should Zanaco overcome APR, they are likely to face George Lwandamina’s Young Africans of Tanzania who thumped Comoros’ Ngaya de Mbe 4-0 yesterday.

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