Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
GREEN Buffaloes’ ascendancy to the top of the FAZ-MTN Super Division charts is a culmination of their hard work.
Buffaloes have been consistent throughout the season and deserve to hold the top position as the race for the title nears the end.
There are a lot of positives in the army club’s surge for the title they last won in 1981.
The Bilton Musonda-coached side do not have big-name players and have been modest in attracting talent.
While most clubs in the Super Division are looking to foreign talent and coaches as a panacea for their good showing, Buffaloes have stuck to the policy of Zambianisation.
The army command has demonstrated that keeping faith in local players and coaches it pays off.
Discipline on and off the pitch has been the hallmark of the Arakan Barracks outfit, which has mainly relied on talent from its satellite teams.
Musonda brought in Mike Katiba from Mighty in midfield this year and Happy Kaunda in 2016 from Konkola Blades to beef up the team.
New discoveries include Oister Mwakatambala from Luena Buffaloes in Kaoma, who came along with assistant coach Ernest Chisenga.
Under-20 international Robert Musonda was roped in from Tug Argan Snipers in Ndola to come and join forces with Diamond Chikwekwe, international Jack Chirwa and striker Friday Samu, who has come to the party by banging in goals in every game.
With pointman Brian Mwila lured by South African club, Samu has now become Buffaloes’ main goal-getter, along with Chikwekwe.
Apart from Samu and Mwila, who netted six goals before going to South Africa, the other goals have been scored by Jack Chirwa (four, two from penalties), Katiba (four), and Chikwekwe (three).
The new-comers are blooding well with the club’s veterans Sebastian Mwansa, Felix Katongo, Allan Mukuka (back from Amazulu in South Africa), Buchizya Mfune, Lottie Phiri, Davy Kaumbwa, Sydney Lombe, Stephen Kabamba and Morgan Kanjolo.
This has made Buffaloes a team of surprises this season.
The technical bench of Musonda, Charles Bwale and Chisanga seems to get along very well.
Musonda, the Under-20 national team assistant coach, is so embracing and his inspiration rubs on to the players to deliver.
Teamwork and military mentality have greatly helped Buffaloes to make winning easier than expected.
The army command, on its part, does everything possible to make Buffaloes go the extra mile and dominate the league standings.
So far, the going looks smooth for the team as they enjoy the status of table-toppers going into the Barclays Cup quarter-finals tomorrow.
“We have built a good relationship with everybody starting from backroom staff to the entire team. We are giving each player a chance to prove himself. We pick the team on merit,” Musonda said.
Buffaloes’ league triumphs were in 1973, 1974, 1975.
They reclaimed the title in 1977 and 1979.
The 1974 title remains memorable as they were unbeaten, winning 17 matches and drawing nine when they were captained by Geojago Musengule, who later became army commander.
With the confidence, command has reposed in this team, Buffaloes are in pole position to win the 2017 title.
Coach Musonda, a warrant officer, has an opportunity to etch his name permanently in Arakan if he swings the title to the army headquarters.
After all, all the previous titles were won by coaches who were soldiers like him.
They have everything to play for.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail