Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
CONGRATULATIONS to Zesco United for winning the 2017 Super Division title in what was one of the most intriguing races in many years.
Zesco managed 74 points, one better than Zanaco while Nkana and Buffaloes were third and fourth with 71 and 70 points respectively. That’s how close it was and had to be decided on the final day.
Zesco thumped Mufulira Wanderers 4-2 in Ndola to relegate the nine-time league champions to the first division, a place they should never come close to given their larger-than-life status in the game.
As you may be aware, Zesco and Zanaco will represent the country in the CAF Champions League while Nkana and Buffaloes will do battle in the Confederation Cup.
There is no time for celebrations and the four teams should immediately embark on serious preparations for continental football so that they do not embarrass us as some have done in the past.
Zesco know what to expect in the CAF Champions League having reached the semi-finals last year.
Quite obviously, they must strengthen the squad so that their dream of winning the elusive trophy could be a reality. Mind you, Zesco were not really at their best when one considers that they dropped 40 points along the way. That is not meant to take away anything from the champions but suffice to say the chasing pack was meek.
With a strong team and adequate preparations, Zesco can go all the way and win the Champions League at the sixth time of asking.
Zesco acting coach Tenant Chembo has proved that he means business and should be offered the top job like yesterday. Zlatko Krmpotic is in the past and shouldn’t be anywhere near the team.
As for Zanaco, they looked strong during the campaign and have a squad good enough to challenge for the Champions League title. Clearly, Zanaco need a striker to make a difference in the competition.
Coach Mumamba Numba has proven he is not numb; he understands the game and is one of the best coaching brains around. If anyone is in doubt, they can seek confirmation from the Sports minister.
Nkana reached the group stage in the 2014 Confederation Cup and coach Beston Chambeshi needs to reinforce the team to ensure a successful campaign.
For Green Buffaloes, they need to prepare adequately because they have been nowhere near continental football in the last nine years.
Buffaloes’ last involvement in the Confederation Cup was in 2008 and they reached the first round after losing 2-1 on aggregate to Zimbabwean side Bulawayo Highlanders.
The return of Kitwe United to the Super Division has brought joy to the club supporters.
The Buchi Boys, as the team is known by its cadres, are making a return after 11 years in the first division.
The city of Kitwe will now have six derbies in a season – Nkana versus Kitwe, Kitwe versus Nkana, Power versus Nkana, Nkana against Power, Kitwe versus Power and Power v Kitwe.
The biggest ones will be the Nkana versus Kitwe matches and I am sure both sets of fans are rehearsing on how to unleash insults disguised as support.
By the way, last Friday, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) banned City of Lusaka supporter Kennedy Lungu, alias Magrosa, for unacceptable language, hooliganism and inappropriate behaviour.
But Magrosa’s insults cannot be compared to those unleashed by Kitwe United fans.
Now that FAZ have banned Magrosa, I hope some executive committee members will find time and visit Garden Park Stadium and listen to ‘brand new’ insults so that more supporters across the country could be banned from watching football.
Seriously, though, FAZ should have nothing to do with Magrosa; the association is too big for that.
All the best to the under-20 national team in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Youth Championship kicking off today.