Football Sport

Hats off to Zesco United

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
ZESCO United have successfully branded themselves into a club every Zambian soccer fan is clamouring to watch – especially when playing in the CAF Champions League.
If the match is on SuperSport, millions of Zambians follow proceedings.
After deservingly qualifying for the group stage, Zesco landed themselves in what was widely considered the group of death because they drew Egyptian giants Al Ahly, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Ivorian outfit Asec Mimosas, three of the continent’s seasoned campaigners.
But the club their supporters fondly call ‘Team Yaziko’ has been equal to the task by winning two of their three group games so far, the latest being beating Asec 3-1 in Ndola last Saturday.
Zesco’s victory comes at a time when Zambians are still coming to terms with the Chipolopolo’s failure to qualify for the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations finals.
With two wins and one defeat after the third round, Zesco are a stone‘s throw away from making history.
But there is need for the Zesco technical bench to tighten the defence that has conceded five goals in three matches.
Zesco edged Al Ahly 3-2, lost 2-0 to Wydad before thumping Asec 3-1.
The Zambian champions cannot afford to be conceding in every game because that could be dangerous in case of a tie at the end of the group stage.
I hope coach George Lwandamina will adopt the catenaccio defence-oriented strategy, having been a defender for ‘Mighty’ Mufulira Wanderers and the national team in his heyday.
I am happy that Lwandamina acknowledges his team’s poor away record which catenaccio can sort out.
In this year’s CAF Champions League, Zesco have lost twice away and won the same number of games on the road.
Zesco lost 2-0 to Guinean side Horoya in the second round return leg and went down by a similar margin to Wydad.
The technical bench should ensure that this trend is halted.
History is beckoning for Zesco and the players should take the remaining three games like cup finals.
Victory over Asec in Abidjan on July 28 will move Zesco near the semi-final slot.
The players should summon all their energies because Africa and the world at large are watching.
Players like Cletus Chama and John Ching’andu have impressed since the start of the Champions League and I will not be surprised if European clubs start chasing for their signatures.
Chama has scored four goals in the competition while Ching’andu has netted three times.
The Champions League matches are shown on television and a number of top teams in Africa or Europe are keeping an eye on the likes of Chama and Ching’andu.
Both players are 25 and it is the right age to trek to Europe.
***********
I hope the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) will expedite the engagement of a national team coach.
Reports reaching my office are that FAZ have selected an ad hoc committee to shortlist coaches that will be interviewed next week.
I hope the committee will move fast so that a coach is engaged soon.
Ladies and gentlemen, time is not on our side. In case some people have forgotten, Zambia will host Nigeria in a 2018 Russia World Cup qualifier on October 1.
phiristeve4@gmail.com, sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm

Facebook Feed

Ad1