By NDINAWE SIMPELWE -
WITH the last round of games to go before the MTN-FAZ Super League title is decided, Zanaco assistant coach Dabid Chilufya set off mind games by declaring that pressure will be on league leaders Zesco United.
But Zesco stand-in coach Tenant Chembo remained optimistic that destiny was in his team’s hands despite squandering a five point lead which has reduced to a slender point.
Zesco drew with Green Eagles on Sunday to move to 71 points but Zanaco, who beat Buildcon 2-1, closed the gap to one point same as third placed Green Buffaloes, who beat Red Arrows 2-1, while fourth placed Nkana on 68 points can also win the title should all the top three teams lose their matches.
Zanaco cut the lead at the top from five points to one in the last two matches and as the league comes to a close this weekend, Zesco need to beat Mufulira Wanderers to grab the title from the defending champions.
Chilufya said in a post-match interview after Zanaco beat Buildcon in Ndola on Sunday that Zesco will be under pressure because they let a comfortable five point lead slip away.
“Of course it will be Zesco that will be under pressure. They were five points clear but it has reduced to one point. Besides Mighty (Mufulira Wanderers) has to make sure they win their game to survive, that’s the pressure they have,” he said.
A draw for Zesco and a win for Zanaco against Forest Rangers will see the league title remain in Lusaka.
“That’s why they had a draw in Choma, because Choma also if they had lost they were going to division one. For us we have Forest who are more comfortable and it is easy but we need to fight to get the maximum points,” Chilufya said.
However, Chembo in an interview in Choma said Zesco was still in command of the proceedings and would ensure they beat Wanderers to win the title.
Chembo said it was always difficult get maximum points away in Choma and commended his players for putting up a brave performance. He added that the team was not under pressure despite seeing a five point lead reduced to one in the last three matches.
“Like I said we are in the driving seat, we just have to be strong mentally. We will be playing home against Mighty, hopefully and God willing the boys will be fine,” Chembo said.
Chembo admitted that they missed injured striker Jesse Were in Sunday’s scoreless away draw at Green Eagles.
The league leaders struggled in attack in Were’s absence, who missed the match due to a tendon problem he sustained in last Thursday’s 0-0 home draw against Red Arrows.
Were is Zesco’s top scorer with 16 league goals so far this season heading into this weekend’s final round of fixtures.
“Were is an integral part of the team obviously I wouldn’t like to lie to you that I think any different but we missed him. But each and every player who is part of the Zesco family is important,” he said.
Chembo praised man-of-the-match Marcel Kalonda for his performances and complementing Ben Banh in central defence during David Owino’s lengthy injury absence.
Chembo added that Owino should be back for this weekend’s must-win home game against Wanderers.