Football Sport

Who shined brightest in the Super Division?

Bola Biz
AS THE curtains close on the MTN Super Division this weekend, it becomes imperative to check the contents of the cloth of a fascinating garment that the campaign was.
Zanaco were crowned champions for the seventh time. And if you are looking for player of the season, the search would stop at Ziyo Tembo.
The 31-year-old Zanaco skipper was a phenomenal leader of the bankers.
He led from the back. He was the captain of the boat which shipped only 16 goals the entire season. At Sunset Stadium, he was the brick wall that was scaled only once. That honour fell to Green Eagles’ Chilimba Kabwe. It’s incredible! Conceding only one goal at home the entire season is the stuff football history manuscripts feed off.
The majestic centre back popped up at crucial times with goals too. Tembo’s four for the season were the highest for a defender in the league.
Consider that 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year Christopher Katongo only managed three goals the entire campaign albeit plagued by injuries. Other strikers like Francis Kombe finished with 3 goals.
Tembo was at par with Wadi Degla on loan at Nkana striker Ronald Kampamba.
Tembo capped off a fantastic personal best with a fine performance for Chipolopolo’s 1-1 draw against Cameroon in the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifier in Limbe.
When Mumamba Numba was appointed Zanaco coach the rejoinder was, “The team was too big for him,” on account of his age.
But the 38-year-old proved that age really is nothing but a number. Apart from Zanaco having the meanest defence in the league, the bankers were the most prolific too with a return of 63 goals.
Not only did Zanaco win the league, the bankers also contested the Barclays Cup final and lost narrowly to Zesco United 1-0.
In his debut season, no coach is more deserving than the Konkola Blades groomed former Zambia international of the top coach of the year gong than Numba.
A strong case would be made for George Lwandamina. At some point, the man I rechristened “King Chicken” after a wonderful run in the CAF Champions League, doubled up as Chipolopolo coach.
Despite the extra loads of work, Lwandamina succeeded in taking Zesco to the last four in Africa before succumbing to eventual champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
But the ignominy of failing to lead Zambia to the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations hangs on his head.
At the time Lwandamina flew to Tanzania to become the new Yanga boss, Zesco’s league season was in tatters.
But the club hang on and bagged the Barclays Cup and looked poised to finish second behind Zanaco in the league.
Numba, still holds the aces in that the levels of investment in the squad at Zanaco was a drop in the ocean compared to the riches Lwandamina had at the Ndola giants.
Among those from Zesco who shorn in that investment is the unflappable David Owino Odhiambo.
The Kenya international was rock solid throughout the season. He is a modern defender who on occasion found himself in the opposition box and managed two goals in the league.
Odhiambo played with a swagger. Like Tembo, he may not be the quickest on the back foot, but what he lacks in pace, Odhiambo compensates with a big football brain.
He reads the game well and is calm under pressure. In moving from Gor Mahia to Zesco in January 2015, Odhiambo reportedly pocketed US$20, 000 as signing fee while his parent club got US$15, 000.
He has repaid those contract sums in full.
Zesco had Jesse Jackson Were from Kenya having a stellar debut season. Misheck Chaila deserves mention but Clatous Chota Chama played stuff that lifted bums off the stadium seats in excitement.
It is no surprise that the Luapula product shall be playing his football next season in the vicinity of the Nile in Egypt.
Finally, the most supported club in Zambia Nkana faithful would vouch for the recognition of half-Zambian, half-Congolese forward Walter Henritich Binene Bwalya.
With a return of 23 goals in the league, Bwalya surely was one of the stars of the season.
With the Elephants of the Ivory Coast in a tug of war with the Three Lions of England over the international future of Wilfred Zaha, Zambia needs to tie Bwalya to a senior Chipolopolo cap.
His chance conversion ratio is still something the Nkana number 10 can improve on.
But Bwalya would not look out of place among the current Chipolopolo forwards.
Forest Rangers’ 23-year-old striker Felix Nyaende helped the Dola Hill side survive relegation with 10 goals.
Mufulira Blackpool are heading back to Division One with the record of not winning a single top flight match but forward Patrick Kongolo, with three goals, might be praying to stay in the top flight.

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