By NDINAWE SIMPELWE –
ZESCO United will be looking to put their title defence back on track after the mid-week setback when they visit Green Buffaloes, while Power Dynamos will be searching for their first win in four matches as they host Nakambala Leopards with second-placed Nkana having a tough challenge to pick up points against Napsa Stars in this weekend’s MTN/FAZ Super League week 31 fixtures.
Buffaloes v Zesco
Zesco have a huge task of retaining the league title after they found themselves with seven unplayed games which they have to clear in the shortest time possible.
The defending champions handed the advantage to league leaders Zanaco after losing to Nkwazi on Wednesday and they will look to make amends against an unpredictable Buffaloes.
With news about George Lwandamina leaving Zeasco dominating the Press, the defending champions will need total concentration to avoid a second straight defeat.
Lwandamina will rely on Jacob Banda in goal while David Odhianbo and Ben Banh will marshall the central defence to thwart threats from Christopher Katongo and Friday Samu.
In midfield, Zesco is spoilt for choice with Misheck Chaila, Cletus Chama, Mwape Mwelwa, Kondwani Mtonga all available for selection while Felix Katongo and Allan Mukuka are expected to start for the hosts.
Upfront Jesse Were and Idris Mbombo are set to partner as Jackson Mwanza continues to recover from injury.
Buffaloes, on the other hand, need to find consistency as they have failed to replicate last year’s form which saw them lift the Barclays Cup.
Coach Bilton Musonda will be eager to beat his former coach and coaching mentor knowing a win will see them displace Zesco on fourth position.
Zesco have 50 points while fifth-placed Buffaloes have 48.
Nkana v Napsa
Nkana’s response to their elimination from the Barclays Cup was a 6-3 bashing of Nakambala Leopards which they hope to replicate against Napsa Stars today.
But the task will be tougher as the visitors are unbeaten in 10 league matches boasting the best form at the moment.
Napsa, who are lying 10th on the table with 38 points, have a chance to climb up to sixth position if other results go their way this weekend.
But with pressure mounting and chances of winning the league fast disappearing, Nkana coach Aggrey Chiyangi is expected to field his strongest side possible looking to cut the lead at the top to two points.
Walter Bwalya will be the centre of attraction as he chases the top scorers award having scored 18 goals already for the Kitwe giants who are second on the table with 60 points, five behind leaders Zanaco who have two unplayed games.
Power v Nakambala
With a disciplinary case over crowd trouble pending at Football House, Power need to put their act together as they have dipped in form at the wrong time.
Power, who had looked certain to fight Nkana for second position, have failed to pick a win in their last four matches with their latest setback being an abandoned match against Mufulira Wanderers at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe.
Nakambala will also look to bounce back from their humiliating 6-3 defeat at the hands of Nkana.
In the rest of today’s matches, Mufulira Wanderers host Lumwana Radiants, Lusaka Tigers will look to utilise their slim hopes of survival when they host Green Eagles, while Nchanga Rangers may drop into the relegation zone if they lose at home to Nkwazi.