10 November 2012

Zambia: Local Football League Drama Hits Climax

Photo: CAF
African soccer leagues are struggling to turn professional and compete with other world big clubs like Europe clubs.

WHAT a way to end a great footballing year in Zambia!

Aside the euphoria of Zambia winning the first ever Africa Cup, the local league has produced enough drama which would be epitomised this afternoon at four different venues - two of them for a K250 million (US$50,000) winners' cheque, with another two, for dogfights to avoid the dreadful drop to Division One.

Leaders, Power and Zanaco (separated by a point) head in opposite directions in a photo-finish race for the league title, while Roan United and Green Eagles try to avoid taking up one of the remaining relegation spots and all this coming on the last day of football thrills.

Oddly, Zanaco will be hoping to win the league at Power's Arthur Davies Stadium against Nkana, while leaders Power take the title battle to Zanaco's Sunset Stadium against Red Arrows.

Arrows v Power (Sunset)

Standing pretty on 59 points from 29 games, Power can almost smell the K250 million-2012 MTN Premier Division winner's cheque, but that will have to come at a great cost because they will have to duck the missiles from Red Arrows to win the match for them to be crowned champions.

Should Power manage to beat Red Arrows, regardless of results from their turf in Kitwe between Nkana and Zanaco, this will see them win the league title for the seventh time in Zambian history.

They will also overtake Green Buffaloes to become Zambia's third most successful side after all time leaders Nkana with a record 11 league championship titles and Mufulira Wanderers with nine.

Coach Beston Chambeshi has the right ammunition to achieve that goal in a robust midfield that is well blended with offensive and defensive qualities in Mukuka Mulenga, Joseph Sitali and Kennedy Mudenda on one hand and a returning Thomas Nyirenda and Emmanuel Chimpinde on the other end.

But Red Arrows can never be written off that easily; sitting 15 points off the pace, they are fourth on the table and can spoil issues for the red and yellow-shirted Kitwe side.

In Bruce Musakanya, Shaderick Malambo and Mwape Mwelwa as well as scheming coach, George Lwandamina, Arrows might just spoil party for Power.

Nkana v Zanaco

Zanaco would have to beat Nkana at all costs and pray that Power lose their week 30 match at Sunset against Red Arrows in Lusaka for them to win the league in this two-horse race between Power and Zanaco, but Nkana, the 11 time league champions, will be no easy push-over.

Nkana coach, Zeddy Saileti will be in no compromising mood to hand out freebees and would relish a chance to compound further misery on Zanaco whose form dipped late at a crucial stage of the season.

Zanaco has just won one match in five league games, drawing the other four.

The Bankers will hope Elson Mkandawire comes good this afternoon, as well as midfielder Maunga Kabuku and Moses Phiri.

Strangely, in 2002 the league had to be decided on the last day and Nkana, Power and Zanaco were all thick in the action where Power were hoping for Nkana to beat Zanaco at home for them to win the title but Nkana failed to deliver and Zanaco won their first of the five league titles to date.

Roan v Nakambala

Roan United secured a vital draw at Zanaco last weekend and put them in good stead to survive relegation and playing at home against a relegated Nakambala Leopards gives them a better chance of avoiding the drop.

Perched a notch and a point above Green Eagles who occupy the last relegation spot on 32 points, a win will safely guarantee Roan a premiership status for next year and it is against a team playing for nothing.

Eagles v Rangers

The fact that Nakambala Leopards are playing for nothing means they have nothing to lose and that makes them an odd customer for Roan who badly need to win to keep Green Eagles off their prowl.

Eagles host Rangers who are also playing for nothing and can hope neighbours Nakambala can at least hold Roan for them to overtake the Luanshya side, and preserve their premiership status.

Other fixtures today will see relegated National Assembly hosting Konkola Mine Police, while Konkola Blades will be at home to Green Buffaloes while relegated Indeni go to Zesco with Forest Rangers playing Napsa Stars tomorrow.

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