By Musonda Chibulu
Deciding to stand out performers in a tournament is always something that is enticing as a swimming pool to a swimmer on a hot summer day.
The overt function of the Absa Cup is to produce the next generation of legends not only in Zambia but also in the many countries contributing to club sides in the former Northern Rhodesia.
The Absa Cup Quarter Finals saw representation of footballers from countries of the African continent that can be counted on fingers of both hands.
This composite eleven is restricted to 11 stand out players in the last 8 across all nationalities from Zambians, Ghanaians, Nigerians, Malians, Ivorians, Zimbabweans, Namibians, Congolese, Tswanas and so on.
1. Goalkeeper: Williard Phiri (Konkola Blades) – the 23-year-old gets the nod ahead of Scotch Mwanza (Kansanshi Dynamos). Mwanza scored two penalties and saved off Zambia CHAN captain Adrian Chama in the penalty shoot-out won by ZESCO United.
But his tribal brother was excellent in the Blades goal. Two acrobatic free kick stops and great distribution.
Phiri looks a future Zambia international.
2. Simon Silwamba (ZESCO UNITED) – tough as steel nails in the tackle and outlet for attacks on the right. Those in the arena at Woodlands Stadium were not spoilt for choice when it came to right backs over the course of the four quarterfinals.
Silwamba was solid and stood out.
3. Yanganile Tembo (Prison Leopards)- slides into the side after a man of the match performance at left back for the Correct Boys against a frontline that had Botswana gem Mothusi Cooper, Zambia international Collins Sikombe and Emmanuel Chabula.
Tembo showed bags of pace and good close ball control, brilliant cover plays and bombed forward in joining the attack on the left like duck dives into water.
4. Dominic Chanda (Kabwe Warriors)- majestic centre back. He did not show the dark arts defending which let the likes of Moses Phiri and Roger Kola have a sniff of Scott Ngokene goal.
But those were mere sniffs, as Chanda stood tall in reading the game and defending stoically against that fearsome two and pace to burn Abraham Siankombo.
The 25-year-old may do better if he watches Sergio Ramos to learn that whatever comes your way, headbutt it, dislodge it, disturb it and destroy it, for the sake of success.
The dark arts of defending.
5. Adrian Chama (ZESCO United) – Captain of the composite side. The former futsal footballer may have failed in his first penalty attempt and was bailed out by generous refereeing, but he oozed class in keeping calm to slot home the re-taken penalty.
Very poised and good reader of the game.
6. Donashano “Ichamilando” Malama (ZESCO UNITED)-the 29-year-old is already something of a journeyman having started out in Chililabombwe but has paraded his energies in Morocco and Black Leopards of South Africa.
His nickname is derived from tough timber transporting trucks. He was workaholic personified in the engine of the Ndola giants.
7. Prince Mumba (KABWE WARRIORS)- the pint-sized partisan artiste only aged 19 is a little man with Big Ideas as a creative force epitomized by his ingenuity and was at the heart of the movements that culminated in Kabwe Warriors twice taking the lead twice. In fact, it was the junior international Mumba’s deflected shot that Field Kandela benefited from to slot home the second goal.
8. Mothusi Cooper (Lusaka Dynamos)-the Botswana international did not start like a house on fire but grew in influence as the match wore on against Leopards.
He was disciplined enough to toll the regimented way of Wedson Nyirenda’s system that has little room for careless ball players.
It was neat nick and tuck display for Cooper.
9. Tshite Mweshi (Prison Leopards)- the Congolese born restored parity in the 35th minute with a lethal injection (to borrow from the Zambia Correctional Services (ZSC) Mukobeko Prison parlance) after compatriot Teddy Etakiama had turned one into the Charles Kalumba net to charitably hand Lusaka Dynamos the lead in front of the watch ZSC Commissioner-General Dr. Chisala Chileshe.
10. Moses Phiri (ZANACO)-the former Academico de Viseu of Portugal player produced a world class finish to continue his excellent run of goal scoring form. Phiri was on target when Zambia was hammered 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the CHAN on 31 January. 40 days later the 27-year-old was a leading light for Chris Kaunda’s march into the last four.
11. Emmanuel Mwamba (Konkola Blades)- Wild card entry, but many will argue that his goal was very significant. Blades are an Eden University National First Division side. The boys from the border town brought down Forest Rangers from the topflight who flew Zambia’s flag in the ill-fated CAF Champions League this campaign. And it was the only Absa Cup quarterfinal that was decided from open play.
He was lively and a beauty to behold.
We look forward to the semi-finals of the K3.8 million rich Absa Cup with relish.
More players shall be jostling for the K15, 000 Man of the Match award which in the four quarterfinals went to Yanganile Tembo, Tshite Mweshi, Prince Mumba and Williard Phiri.