MATHEWS KABAMBA, Kitwe
WHAT started as Rimon Soccer Academy 15 years ago is today a Super Division club and will this year rub shoulders with heavyweights Nkana, Zanaco, Zesco United and Power Dynamos, among others.
If you travel, Nakonde in Muchinga Province this year, you will do well to make a stopover at a place called New Stadium, home of Real Nakonde.
The border side earned the right to play in Zambiaâ€™s elite league after finishing top of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Division One Zone Three with 55 points.
Under the guidance of sacked Noel Phiri, the club won promotion to the Super Division with two games remaining after trouncing Mpulungu Harbour 3-0 in a Week 28 encounter on October 22, 2016.
Real won promotion without losing at home while the worst results on the road were draws.
However, club chairman Simon Mwanza says the Zone Three was tough.
â€œI donâ€™t subscribe to the debate that we were beneficiaries of playing in a weak zone, far from it, our zone was as strong as any other zones. Football in the lower ranks is very competitive,â€ Mwanza says.
Mwanza says the club had a vision of playing in the topflight such that even under the old Division One North and South system they would have earned promotion.
The clubâ€™s base is over 1,000 kilometres from where most elite league clubs are situated.This means with the increase of Division teams from 18 to 20, Real will need to travel 19 times to fulfil away fixtures.
This will be a drain on the club sponsored by a group of 10 businessmen and women.
Like any other promoted side, Real have set survival in the topflight as a minimum benchmark.Anything more than that will be a bonus.
To bring stability to the technical bench, the club executive has engaged former Forest Rangers and Mufulira Blackpool coach Mathews Njovu, replacing Noel Phiri.
Njovu is impressed with the amount of talent he has at his disposal and believes they will manage to maintain their Super Division status.
â€œIt will be a blessing if we can manage to stay in the Super Division. You know, the team made history by winning promotion to the Super Division and it will be a long way for us to come back if we go down.
â€œWe just have to pull in the same direction and targets will be achieved at the end of the season,â€ Njovu says.
Real have recruited Congolese striker Meki Mulume from Nchanga Rangers.
Njovu will also bank on an array of talent that includes skipper Mathews Silavwe, who scored 10 goals last season, goalkeeper Titon Zulu,and midfielders Monday Bwalya and Bruno-Simutala among others.
Clubs travelling to Nakonde will have to be wary as the team enjoys good support from Nakonde residents and those from neighbouring Tanzania.
Buildcon feature foreigners in Mazembe friendly
MULWANDA LUPIYA, Ndola
SUPER Division Buildcon on Wednesday made history by becoming the first Zambian side to name their starting line-up comprising foreign players in an international friendly against Democratic Republic of Congo side TP Mazembe.
The match at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola ended goalless.
Buildcon started with Congolese goalkeeper Scott Ngokene while the back four had Ugandan Isaac Isinde, Ichaka Diarra of Mali, and the Ghanaian duo of Moro Lamin and Basit Masawudu.
The Congolese duo of Fidele Bosandja and Musa Ndusha, Mustafa Essuman of Ghana and Kenyan Clifton Miheso were operating in midfield.
Nigerian Philip Osamudiamen and Ghanaian Richmond Adongo were in attack.
At restart, Buildcon coach Jadrane Hicham introduced Zambian striker Jonas Sakuwaha for Osamudiamen while midfielder Mathews Nkhowane was unleashed for Miheso.
Other Zambian players at Buildon are Emmanuel Mayuka, Emmanuel Kalala, Simon Nkole and Richard Mwanza who did not see action.
The Ndola side were using the match to prepare for the Super Division Week One fixture against Real Nakonde next Saturday.
On the other hand, Zambia internationals Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala and Given Singuluma were in the starting line-up for Mazembe.
MATHEWS KABAMBA, Kitwe