‘Brave’ Rangers provided cup thrill

THE magic of cup competitions is that nothing is really guaranteed.
There is always the prospect of an upset.
Zesco United found out so in Absa Cup this season when they faced ‘Brave’ Nchanga Rangers.
Rangers overcame six-time champions Zesco in a quarter-final fixture 4-3 on lotteries after a 0-0 draw in 90 minutes.
Although Rangers beat Southern Province Division One side River Plate 6-5 on post-match penalties after a goalless draw in regulation time at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe, at the beginning of the tournament, very few people would have given them chance of reaching the last four.
But they did. And they almost reached the final.
It was certainly not a walk in the park for Super League leaders Red Arrows, who had to dig deeper against Rangers to secure passage to the final, where they will face ‘Magnificent’ Kabwe Warriors.
Rangers had a game plan, which they executed very well, but were unfortunate to lose 2-1 in a semi-final tie in Kitwe last Saturday.
Despite the final outcome, it can be said Rangers ably represented the lower ranks.
We expect Rangers players and technical bench, with their splendid showing against Arrows, to walk with their heads higher.
They have punched above their weight, and Super League teams should brace for a torrid time when they face ‘Brave’ Rangers in the 2024/25 season.
Lumwana Radiants and Rangers have bounced back to the top flight after a season in National Division One.
Two more teams are yet to clinch promotion.
The onus is now on Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to lure as many sponsors as possible to sponsor cup competitions.
We need to see teams from the lower ranks challenging the big boys in cup competitions.
We remember minnows Lusaka Celtic winning Mosi Cup 20 years ago.
Celtic, now defunct, edged Warriors 2-1 at Independence Stadium in Lusaka on December 4, 2004.
Days of the BP Challenge Cup, Champion of Champions, Mosi Cup, Independence Cup, Coca-Cola Cup, Heroes and Unity Cup and Chibuku Cup, among others, should return on the football calendar.
It is through such competitions that teams in the lower ranks are exposed and some players attract attention of established sides.
Goal-poacher Kelvin Mutale, a Gabon air crash victim, caught the attention of Nkana Red Devils [now Nkana] during a cup match in 1991.
Mutale was plying his trade for Nitrogen Stars in Kafue.
We believe with more cup competitions, a number of players in rural areas could shine and some of them could sign life-changing contracts with big teams along the line of rail.
We cannot have one cup competition in a country where football is dominant.
Sixty years after independence, we should have a number of cup competitions on the calendar.
Wishing Arrows and Warriors luck in the final, set for National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
To supporters of the two teams, feel the 60,000-capacity facility to the rafters and enjoy every moment of the final, which has K800,000 prize money for the winners.
Runners-up will receive K350,000, with the playerof-the-tournament, top scorer and golden glove winner each pocketing K25,000.
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