CROWDS, customarily, side with the small dog in a contest.
And that was the story of the Barclays Cup quarter-final at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka Sunday afternoon in front of watching Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga and general secretary Ponga Liwewe.
Nowell Phiri’s Kabwe Youth Soccer Academy charmed fans with an impressive showing despite the match not going with the Cinderella script as Lusaka Dynamos played the pantomime villain triumphing 1-0 through a fortuitous Marvin Jere’s goal.
The Division One club which has just won promotion to the Super Division with five matches to spare held their own often sending the raucous crowd into ruptures with a pleasant passing game and a few tricks from the Broken Hill locker room.
Some fans in the Nkoloma Stadium grandstand were so overwhelmed with what their eyes were feasting on from the underdogs. They took an “offering” from fellow fans calling the campaign for cash ‘’Ishabaice’’ meaning money for the young side.
They collected about K600. It added to the fanfare of the Barclays Cup.
Indeed some Kabwe Youth youngsters caught the eye with 18-year-old pint sized midfielder Daniel Chama particularly impressing against a Dynamos side boasting of established internationals in shock man of the match Clatous Chama, Fwayo Tembo and immaculate Uganda man Joseph Ochaya.
The shirt number 7 was a marvel to watch. ‘’I was called up for the Under-17 national team before,’’ he told me after the match.
The performance by the young Napsa Stars product spoke. It was first class; Chama was intelligent on and off the ball often leaving the big Dynamos men in his boyish shadow.
His partner in midfield mischief, the number 11, Oswald Simpemba was a live wire too.
Danny Chama was the people’s man-of-the-match.
Many tongues wagged wondering how the K5,000 boon from Barclays Bank deserted the talented boy.
In fact, the award could not have been misplaced if it had gone to his dazzling long legged teammate; the defensive midfielder number shirted 4 Lazarous Muchinga.
Perhaps, Muchinga picked up something from the UEFA Champions League final last year which he watched in flesh after being sponsored by a named soft drink manufacturing company.
He was colossus in midfield with vision and breaking up attacks from the enemy.
FAZ president Kamanga reserved special mention for the lad, “That boy who was playing in the holding role is really good. He dictated the pace of the match.’’
Kabwe Youth president Evans Mutangama, whose name was emblazoned across the chest of the shirts of his lads was proud of his team despite the defeat.
“We played well, despite the defeat,” the soft spoken Mutangama said after the match.
Yes. They did. The crowd at Nkoloma Stadium approved with cheers throughout. Their lack of cutting edge upfront prevented them from causing a ‘cupset’.
But dear, oh dear, the Youths had a go at Dynamos like peers unlike Connor McGregor against Floyd Mayweather in the comical money fight.
“’I did not expect such from Kabwe Youth Soccer Academy. They are a good team needing just a few touches ups in the big league they have been promoted to,’’ Dynamos coach Patrick Phiri admitted after the match.
Phiri gave a forthright assessment.
I was telling my friend Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) president Dr. Abidan Chansa after 15 minutes of action, ‘’Doc, Lusaka Dynamos shall only win this match through a mistake from this incredible young side.’’
At the stroke of half-time, that mistake came like tears at the death of a loved one. Potato shaven lanky goalkeeper Haveson Chingambu, hitherto unflappable, misjudged a Clatous Chama cross completely allowing Jere to stroke the ball gently into the unguarded net.
Like the experienced Dynamos boss indicated Kabwe Youth ran his side rugged but were let down by that little detail that experienced teams feed on.
Fate provided that the second of the double header lived to its billing with Kabwe Youth stealing the hearts of the majority of the crowd at Nkoloma Stadium.
Earlier, Linos Makwaza continued his impressive unbeaten start to life as Napsa Stars stand in coach reaching the semi-finals with a 3-2 penalty shoot-out win over Green Buffaloes.
Veteran Lottie Phiri looked to have won it for the Super Division league leaders but man-of the-match Mangani Phiri delivered a fatal blow at the death to send the match into dramatic penalties with Stars heroic goalkeeper Rabson Mucheleng’anga saving two spot kicks.
In the last four, Napsa await the winners between Zesco United and Kitwe United who face off today in Kitwe while Dynamos tackle Zanaco.
The essence of the Barclays Cup was epitomised in the spirit of Kabwe Youth Soccer Academy.
Barclays Bank puts money in the Community to lift the lives of those who many not be highly regarded and give them a reason to rub shoulders with folks beyond their league.
These are the stories we are all love. We love seeing the big dog thrown to the ground by the small dog as they play together.
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