18 February 2013

Zambia: Zanaco Will Qualify, Assures Mumba

ZANACO coach Keagan Mumba has moved quickly to avert fears of his side having an early exit from the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) Champions League after a nervy 3-2 home win over Mbabane Swallows insisting the bankers will qualify to the first round.

Mumba, who inspired a youthful Zanaco side to winning the MTN-FAZ Super Division title last year, said in an interview at the weekend after watching his side beat Swallows, that he had faith in his charges, especially that his team managed to score three times.

He was also happy that his new acquisitions have jelled in well into the team, but regretted the slender win saying his side could have scored more and defended better.

"We will definitely qualify. We will go there and play to qualify. The good thing here is that we won and we shall be carrying a win to Swaziland which means that for Swallows to qualify, they will have to beat us.

"In trying to beat us, they will attack and that will give us the spaces we want. They played a compact game today and did not allow us a lot of chances but they will open up at their home turf and we will score goals," a confident Mumba said.

Swallows played a compact game especially at the back with two holding midfielders right in front of the defenders with Zanaco struggling to create scoring chances with all three goals scored coming from set pieces.

Zanaco started with three new signees, all attack minded players in Musonda Mwape, Aubrey Zulu and Roderick Kabwe with Zulu proving to be the only one looking out of place, while the other two looked like real assets acquired.

"The new players looked good but you have to give them time. Some have jelled excellently, while others were a bit off and were failing to even control the ball but as everyone knows, we are lacking match fitness as our season is still on recess," he said.

Zanaco went into this game coming off a three-month off-season layoff, while the 'Birds' are in the second half of their season and lead the table by a whopping 12 points.

Mumba said the team would have picked up match fitness by the time it played the return leg as it would be involved in a real competitive game in form of the Charity Shield semi-final against Napsa Stars at Nkoloma Stadium.

Swallows coach Nyanga Hlophe believes, though, that the qualifier is all but wrapped up for his side, saying Zanaco would not be going into the Lion's Den in Mbabane at which he would unleash some of the players that stayed behind.

Mbabane's top man Mike Mohammed stayed behind due to an illness ahead of the Zanaco encounter, while Samulile Kachoka had passport problems in South Africa en-route to Zambia for the game.

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