17 November 2012

Zambia: Napsa, Power Face-Off

HISTORY beckons for Napsa Stars today when they face holders, Power Dynamos in the 2012 Barclays Cup final at the magnificent Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

The K1 billion-rich sixth edition of the Barclays Cup final match comes barely a week after Power surrendered their MTN Premier League crown to Zanaco.

However, since its inception in 2007, the competition has only been won by Power and Zesco United. Zesco won the inaugural competition in 2007 and defended it the following year before surrendering it to Power in 2009.

In 2010, Zesco reclaimed the title, only for Power to grab it back last year. Power is now searching for the third Barclays Cup trophy to equal Zesco's achievement.

The Kitwe giants will be desperate not to lose another title on the trot when a Napsa side, with nothing to lose, tries to stake a claim in the only surviving local football cup competition.

For all their flair and skills this year, Power's only success so far is the season-opening Samuel 'Zoom' Ndhlovu Charity Shield, which they won after beating Nchanga Rangers 3-1 in the final at Konkola Stadium in Chililabombwe eight months ago.

Power coach Beston Chambeshi believes the professionalism his players have exhibited in the year will help retain the Barclays Cup to Arthur Davies.

Having lost out on the league title, Power cannot afford to give up too on the Barclays Cup trophy, which carries K200 million prize money while the losing finalist gets K100 million with the coach and player-of-the-tournament pocketing K10 million and K5 million respectively.

But Napsa coach, Peter Kaumba, who is no stranger to lifting an underrated team to glory, thinks his team has all it takes to claim the Barclays Cup championship since they made it to the final.

Kaumba, himself a Power legend, guided Kitwe United to a shocking BP Top Eight Cup triumph in 2004 after grinding over much-fancied sides, Nchanga Rangers and Zanaco.

He said if Napsa was not good enough, they would have been knocked out in the previous rounds of the competition.

On paper, Power, led by inspirational attacking-midfielder and MTN Premier League Player-of-the-Year nominee, Mukuka Mulenga, are favoured to add their Barclays Cup trophy haul to three this afternoon.

What with other exciting players in skipper Joseph Sitali, who is also in the running for the Zambian Player-of-the-year-award, Emmanuel Chimpinde, Thomas Nyirenda, Kennedy Mudenda, Simon Bwalya, Govenda Simwala and Kamzati Kabwe.

Chambeshi will also depend on the agility of goalkeeper Joshua Titima in Power's quest for glory.

"We lost out on the league title and we just have to work hard and ensure we retain the Barclays Cup, though we know it will be a tough match against Napsa. Napsa are also coming for a win but I remain confident of a win," Chambeshi said.

Napsa, whose biggest achievement remains winning promotion to the Premiership, will bank on the experience of veteran striker, Harry Milanzi as they target history today.

Milanzi, who is taking the Barclays Cup final as his last chance for glory, is expected to shake off an injury which kept him out of last weekend's league match against Forest Rangers.

To reach this far, Napsa has claimed the scalps of Red Arrows and record three-time winners, Zesco while Power took out Kabwe Warriors and arch rivals, Zanaco.

Adding more spice to this final encounter, the rivalry between Nkana and Mufulira Wanderers will be renewed at lunchtime today when the two legendary clubs clash in the curtain raiser.

Both the curtain raiser and the main match will be televised lived on SuperSport Channel 209.

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