VICTOR KUMWENDA, Lusaka
THE countryâ€™s only soccer competition – the Barclays Cup- today enters the semi-final with mouth-watering encounters at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe.
Three-time champions Zesco United face Napsa Stars in an early kick-off while Nkana take on Konkola Blades.
Barclays Bank Zambia has pumped K2 million into this yearâ€™s competition.
ZESCO v NAPSA (12:45hrs)
This match pits teams that have won the Barclays Cup four times – three for Zesco and one for Napsa.
Zesco bagged the title in 2007, 2008 and 2010 while Napsa were champions in 2012.
Zesco have beaten Napsa twice in the Super Division and will be targeting a third win over the Lusaka outfit.
Zesco beat Napsa 1-0 in Lusaka and 2-0 in Ndola in Super Division Week 11 and 26 matches, respectively.
But Zesco coach George Lwandamina has cautioned his players not to underrate Napsa.
â€œWe have played Napsa twice this year and we have beaten them in both games, so this may create inertia in the boys making them not work hard but it is our dutyÂ to remind them that some of the targets weÂ haveÂ set are to win the Barclays Cup,â€ Lwandamina said.
He will rely on Jackson Mwanza, Winstone Kalengo, Maybin Mwaba and Cletus Chama to maintain the dominance over Napsa.
When the teams met two weeks ago in Ndola, Kalengo and Chama destroyed Napsa.
Napsa coach Hector Chilombo has put up a brave face saying Zesco are beatable.
â€œFor us, itâ€™s like the final. Zesco has beaten us twice this year, but we wonâ€™t let them beat us for the third time. We want to win the Barclays Cup,â€ Chilombo said.
Napsa will look to Ivorian Jean-Paul Simao, Saith Sakala and Donewell Yobe for a final berth.
NKANA v BLADES (15:00hrs)
Nkana must beat Blades to keep alive chances of winning silverware after surrendering the Super Division title.
â€œIt is a match everyone expects us [Nkana] to win, especially after surrendering the league title but it is going to be tough,â€ Nkana coach Beston Chambeshi said.
Chambeshi, a former Blades trainer, will hope Ronald â€˜Sate Sateâ€™ Kampamba and Kelvin Mubanga can replicate the form that saw them score in a 2-0 victory over Power Dynamos in the Barclays Cup quarter-finals.
Simon Bwalya, Claude Bwalya and Festus Mbewe are other options in attack.
Nkanaâ€™s best run in the competition was reaching the semi-finals in 2007 and 2011.
â€œNkana is a very good side although we beat them 1-0 here [Chililabombwe] in a league match. We have to work extra hard to beat them and reach the finals,â€ Blades coach Enos Silwamba said.
Blades will look to Humphrey Maseneko, Davy Kalandanya and Anos Tembo for another upset.
In Super Division matches, Nkana beat Blades 2-1 in Kitwe but lost 0-1 in Chililabombwe.
VICTOR KUMWENDA, Lusaka