By FELIX MALUNGA –
THE MTN-FAZ Premier Division League spins back to life this weekend with champions Zesco United and runners-up Power Dynamos missing out on the first day of the 2015 football season.
Zesco and Power are busy this weekend with international engagements in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup, respectively.
Green Buffaloes were supposed to host Zesco in the season-opener while Power had a date with Zanaco.
While the two sides will not be involved on the local front, four Week One matches will be played this afternoon with another two coming up tomorrow.
One attraction of the 2015 season is the return of Zambia’s most successful football club, Mufulira Wanderers back to the top flight after nine agonising years in the lower division.
Wanderers boasts of a record 49 trophies since the club was formed in 1953.
Top of the bill today will be Napsa Stars taking on National Assembly in a Lusaka derby.
Napsa v Assembly
Having finished a surprise fourth last season, Napsa Stars will be hoping for an even better showing in 2015 but their first hurdle of the year is a familiar foe in National Assembly.
In the absence of head coach Hector Chilombo, who is away in Senegal with the Zambia Under-20 squad, Evans Sakala will take charge of the Day One assignment and hope to impress before the return of his boss.
But Assembly coach George Kapembwa, who has set his sight of finishing in a respectable position this season, will not go down without a fight.
“It was hard in the last part of the season as we had few players at our disposal and I think they did very well. This is a different season and it will have its own challenges but my lads will be up to the challenge,” Kapembwa said.
Rangers v Forest (Live on Supersport 9)
Nchanga Rangers begin their 2015 campaign with a tough-looking fixture against promotion side, Forest Rangers in Chingola.
Rangers have never tasted the league silverware since 1998 and will attempt for glory this season but their resolve will be tested by a Forest side known to be a giant-killer whenever they are in the top flight.
Veteran Rangers coach Fighton Simukonda will also be facing his former assistant at Zesco United, Dabid Chilufya whom Forest have roped in to help build a formidable side.
This match-up will be broadcast live on pay-television Supersport Channel 209.
Nakambala v Nkwazi
After surviving relegation last year, Nakambala Leopards have declared that they will provide real competition to the big guns in the MTN League this season.
Dick Ngwenya, who took over the coaching mantle from Wilson Mwale, has promised ‘war’ in the league and declared this afternoon’s match against promotion side, Nkwazi as an opening ceremony which should be celebrated with a victory.
“I am optimistic that we shall start the league on a positive note because we had adequate preparations and all the departments have been reinforced to ensure that we have a successful season,” Ngwenya said.
Coming up against Elijah Chikwanda’s Nkwazi will not be an easy task for Nakambala despite the Mazabuka outfit recently beating the Zambia Police side 3-1 in a pre-season match.
Dynamos v Eagles
Lusaka Dynamos return to the elite league today after enduring four-years in oblivion where the team even found itself playing Division Two football.
Guided back to the Premiership by youthful Perry Mutapa, Dynamos have declared that their mission this season will not be to fight relegation or the title but just put up a good show.
“We just want to maintain our status in the big league. We do not want to stretch ourselves a lot thinking about a league title or a cup. We just want to be realistic and stay in the FAZ top league,” Mutapa said.
The former international midfielder will be up against Justin Chinama’s Green Eagles on his first day in office this season.
Tomorrow, Nkana Stadium in Kitwe will host a double header which will see Mufulira Wanderers opening their 2015 account against Konkola Blades in a lunchtime kick-off to be shown live on Supersport Channel 209.
Nkana, the 12-time league champions, will later enter the fray to face Red Arrows in the second game of the day