By NDINAWE SIMPELWE –
SOCCER fans will this afternoon be given a sneak peek of what to expect in the 2018 Super Division season when Zanaco and Nkana face off at the Nkoloma Stadium for a place in the Samuel “Zoom” Ndhlovu Memorial Charity Shield final.
Both Zanaco and Nkana coaches have described today’s semi-final as good preparation for their upcoming CAF Interclub competition matches next week.
Zanaco qualified to the semi-final after finishing second in the league as well as winning the Barclays Cup while Nkana finished third in the league.
The second semi-final will see league champions Zesco United, who won last year’s event after beating Nkana 2-0, and Barclays Cup runners-up Napsa Stars face each other on Saturday at the same venue.
Today’s match was brought forward from Saturday to allow both sides enough time to recover for their CAF championship first leg first round matches next week especially Nkana who will play away in Algeria.
Nkana coach Beston Chambeshi said in an interview that he will field a fully strength side to ensure he gauges the readiness of the team.
“Building the team is an ongoing process and the charity shield will help to continue doing that. You can always try different combinations and formations and Zanaco is a good side which will give us a good test. It is important to win it because it will give us a boost ahead of the coming season,” Chambeshi said.
On the other hand, Zanaco coach Mumamba Numba said he will use a second string side in order to rest key players ahead of the Champions League tie against Mbabane Swallows.
Mumamba said this will be the chance for other players to prove they can break into the main team.
Zanaco has already played competitive football beating Gambia Armed Forces home and away in the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League.
“For the Charity shield we shall use the players that remained, they also need to gain the match fitness. That has been the plan from the time the draws were conducted and the players should prove their worth and reach the final,” Mumamba said.
Striker Martin Phiri who has hit the ground running since joining Zanaco with three goals in two matches said the team will take the Charity Shield seriously.
“We need to take the Nkana game very seriously because Mbabane is a tough team and won’t be easy to conquer. The Champions League is a tough competition and there is need to work hard as a team,” he said.
Both sides have new look teams and will look to maximise on the players to give them match fitness and confidence.
Chambeshi will look to organise his striking department which has given him headaches during preseason games with Festus Mbewe, Idris Mbombo, Ronald Kampamba and Walter Bwalya all capable of being in the first team.
Jacob Ngulube will man the midfield and will battle it out against Richard Kasonde of Zanaco while Numba may start Racha Kola in goal to give Toaster Nsabata some rest with Chongo Chirwa and Taonga Bwembya starting as wing backs.
Maisha Chavda and Romaric Pitropha are also available will be eager to make a mark for their new team.