By MOSES CHIMFWEMBE –
NKANA coach Masautso Mwale says playing on an artificial turf against Mbabane Swallows in Swaziland will not daunt his team resolve to reach the finals of the 2014 Orange CAF Champions League.
The 12-time Zambian league champions take on Mbabane Swallows in the first leg of the preliminary round of the competition at the 20,000 capacity Somhlolo National Stadium in Mbabane this weekend with the return match billed for Kitwe next weekend. Mwale said in an interview yesterday that his charges were adequately prepared to face Swallows fondly known as ‘Umkhonto KaShaka’ on the artificial turf of the Stadium that is considered to be the Mecca of Swazi football.
He said having played two games on the artificial turf at TP Mazembe Stadium in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the pre-season training tournament, was enough to prepare his players for the Swallows challenge.
“We are not worried about playing on the artificial turf in Swaziland because it will not be the first time for the players to play on such a pitch before. In Congo (DRC), we played two games on the artificial turf and that was enough for us to go into this game.
“The boys are well prepared and they know what is expected of them. So I do not expect it will be a problem to handle Swallows on the artificial turf,” he said. During the pre-season training tour to the DRC, Nkana beat TP Mazembe, who are DRC envoys in the CAF champions league, 3-2 after drawing 1-1 against Don Bosco, who would be competing in the Confederation Cup.
On Sunday, Nkana recorded an emphatic 2-0 victory over Nchanga Rangers in the Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu Charity Shield, the 2014 season curtain raiser and progressed to the finals where they will face Red Arrows. The Kitwe giants are scheduled to leave for Swaziland on Thursday via Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola. Meanwhile, Swallows thrashed First Division side Hellenic 4-1 in the Swazi Bank Cup grand opening clash at the country’s soccer Mecca ahead of the CAF showdown against Nkana.
Midfielder Njabulo Ndlovu scored a brace while Cameroonian striker Mike Mohammed and winger Wonder Nhleko added a goal each to seal the victory in style.
The victory was a good start for Zambian coach Chris ‘Gazza’ Tembo who was recently took charge of the Swaziland champions.