Football Sport

Zanaco: Big, weak, unreliable

SOCCER REVIEW with STEPHEN PHIRI
THANKS to Zanaco Football Club, we are back at what we know best – mathematics.
Zanaco fought to a goalless draw with Rwanda Patriotic Army (APR) in the CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg in Lusaka last Saturday.
The Bankers face APR in Kigali on Saturday in the return fixture and they need victory or a 1-1 or 2-2 draw – at the least – to advance to the first round.
This is the mathematics I am talking about.
Last December, Zanaco lost seven players and that seems to be their undoing.
Zanaco lost defenders Aaron Katebe and Fackson Kapumbu, midfielders Roderick Kabwe, Isaac Chansa and Salulani Phiri and  strikers Aubrey Funga and Davy Daka.
The Bankers scored 71 times in the league last season and Chansa, Kabwe and Funga contributed about 30 goals between them.
The best teams in the world have kept their players despite attractive offers from their rivals.
Real Madrid have kept Cristiano Ronaldo while Lionel Messi is tied to Barcelona.
The seven players were an integral part of the team, hence Zanaco firing blanks.
Zanaco should learn from Zesco United, who utilised home ground advantage to the fullest during the 2016 CAF Champions League campaign.
Zesco won five out of six home matches and they went on to reach the semi-finals of the competition.
Zanaco needed victory at home to gain confidence as the competition progresses.
Anyway, I am still confident Zanaco could spring a surprise in Kigali.
The Bankers should aim at getting an early goal to put APR under pressure.
An early goal will put APR in an awkward position and if the match ends 1-1, Zanaco will advance to the first round, where they will face George Lwandamina’s Young Africans of Tanzania, who battered Comoros side Ngaya de Mbe 5-1.
The technical bench should seal loop-holes exposed by APR.
Now that Zanaco know APR’s strengths and weaknesses, there is need to exploit them.
It will be embarrassing for Zanaco to exit the lucrative competition in the preliminary round when Zesco made headlines last year.
All eyes will be in the direction of Kigali on Saturday to hear the outcome of the match.
All the best, Zanaco, because you are our torch bearers in Africa’s ultimate club championship.
**********
At long last, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has started placing billboards ahead of the Africa Youth Championship kicking off on February 26.
The billboards are being placed in Lusaka and Ndola, the venues of the two-week tournament.
This exercise could have been done six months ago because the Confederation of African Football (CAF) gave Zambia the greenlight in 2015.
Going forward, there is need to embark on early planning.
For now, let’s concentrate on what is in place because we have 11 days remaining before kick-off.
The under-20 national team showed there is light at the end of the tunnel in the 2-1 win over South Africa in an international friendly in Lusaka on Sunday.
I cannot wait to see under-20 skipper Solomon Sakala hoisting the trophy on March 12.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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