Analysis: TIMOTHY KAMBILIMA
ON SATURDAY December 2, 2017, I was among the 1998 Mosi Cup winners Konkola Blades faithful who travelled to Kitwe’s Nkana Stadium to watch the team end the season with a 4-0 bashing at the hands of 12 time champions Nkana.
Sharp Konkola blades football club which was well known for producing national team players in the past, sadly and painfully kissed goodbye to the expanded MTN super division.
Having been 2016 Division One zone two kings, Blades under coach Enos ‘shilton’ Silwimba was promoted to the elite league. This was just after the team was demoted in 2015. The team started the 2017 on a good note by cutting Bilton Musonda’s Green Buffaloes and City of Lusaka to size with sweet victories. However, before mid-season the Dave Mubita led executive parted company with coach Shilton following a string of losses and draws. This didn’t go well with most of the supporters who felt that the trainer who is now head coach at FQMO in Solwezi was not to blame for the dismal show. The executive then engaged former defender and long serving team manager Wellington Mujembe together as head coach with recently retired striker Chipulu Chileya as assistant with a big task of keeping the team afloat.
We had hope as fans and followers of the team which Zanaco FC and Under-20 national team coach Numba Mumamba and Nkana Captain Donashano Malama played for, would not be relegated. Alas! , the entire season the KCM sponsored team just managed to collect a paltry 28 points from 38 games. Believe me you, we lost 22 games, drew 10 times and won 6 games in the just ended season. The Frank Chinyama led striking force was so blunt that only 24 goals were scored with the defence of Kelly Kayembe allowing in 53 goals the worst in recent times for sharp razor.
What then led to the poor performance of the ‘umupampamina’ as the team is fondly called by SuperSport commentators? The first one is average funding to the team by the sponsors Konkola Copper Mines at the beginning of the season; though later in the season the monthly grant was increased. KCM also took it upon itself to pay winning bonuses promptly as a way of improving the team’s fortune. How I wish this was done at the commencement of the season. Secondly, while big teams like Zesco, Nkana and Green Buffaloes were busy buying quality players in pre-season and window transfer period to beef up their teams, there was no activity to write home about at Konkola Stadium. Thirdly, the 1983 Chibuku Cup champions became ‘tourists’ to the premier division due to lack of teeth by the KCM management in as far as questioning the performance of the executive and technical bench. It’s like the executive is not answerable to anyone.
The other reason is lack of innovation by the executive to attract partners to financially and materially help the team save for the Unity Finance deal. Further,the use of inexperienced boys cost the team. Imagine only about four players had the experience of playing top flight football, the rest were division one and two materials who couldn’t with stand the pressure from the big boys from well organised teams like Lusaka Dynamos and 2017 Champions Zesco United.
What should be done for the team to bounce back to the ZSL at the end of 2018? Konkola copper mines should again increase funding to the team immediately so that new players are bought by the team to replace those who might leave for greener pastures or those who may be off loaded, we also need to motivate the players by buying a big luxury bus just like Zesco, Buffaloes and other teams. The current winning bonus should either be maintained or increased so that we keep those few quality players
In winding up, the executive should have an open door policy to allow for novel ideas from those who have the team at heart. In 2018, we want to be seeing the KCM chief executive to watch Blades at home once in a while to give the boys that sense of belonging. This is happening at other clubs. Imagine our players having a word or two with the CEO before or after the game. If we all put our heads together Konkola Blades FC will bounce back and play elite football in 2019.
The author is former Konkola Blade under 16 player.