By SANDRA MWILA –
FOUR lower division football sides this afternoon start their separate crusades to become the first team from Division-One ever to win the Barclays Cup title, 11 years after its inception.
In fact, just Chambishi has manged to reach the final as a lower division side but ended up losing 4-2 on post-match penalties to their then fierce rivals Zesco United in the first year of the competition.
Today, Chambishi will not be in the picture as the pre-quarter final games kick-off at Nkoloma Stadium which is hosting a double header of Division One sides.
In the skirmishes will be National Assembly, Kitwe United, Kabwe Youth Academy and New Monze Swallows representing Zones One, Two, Three and Four respectively.
Kitwe Utd v Swallows
Kitwe United will kick-start the action against New Monze Swallows in a lunch-time game looking to get an unfriendly date with record cup winners Zesco United in the quarters.
Zesco has won the competition five times and are also the defending championsof the Zambia’s only competitive cup whose sponsorship has increased to K2.3 million with the winners walking away with a K350,000, a K50,000 rise from the last two years.
Kitwe United coach Ernest Koffi believes this competition is a chance for the Garden Park side to re-announce itself as a force in Zambian football and vowed displace whoever they meet on the way to winning the title.
While admitting he knew nothing about his opponents’ style of play, Koffi said he retained faith in his player’s ability to deliver.
“Firstly, we want a win against Monze Swallows but our vision is to dislodge Zesco when we meet at quarter final stage.Our players are in the right frame of mind and have character to perform well in the competition,” Koffi said.
Swallows coach Erick Njobvu kept his ambitions modest just saying they had prepared for Kitwe United adequately adding with all Division-One sides needing to prove a point, the game will be an uphill battle.
“It’s our first time playing in the Barclays Cup and our target for now is to get past the preliminary round and face Zesco,” Njobvu.
Assembly v Kabwe Youth
Big spending Lusaka Dynamos await the winners of this game that kicks-off at 15:00 hours.
Debutants Kabwe Youth Academy had coach Noel Phiri admitting their game against National Assembly will be a tough battle which pits teams with holding commanding advantage in their respective zones.
Assembly have a 17-point lead over LCC while Kabwe Youth, despite a recent poor run, still have a 10 point lead over Zesco Victoria Falls.
Phiri said his number-one target is to get passed the preliminary round.
“My team has young boys but they play a well-coordinated game, Assembly might have the experience but what will matter is the application on the pitch,” Phiri said.
His opposite number Oswald Mutapa equally expects a tough game especially that they will be playing league leaders.
“Every Division-One team is aspiring to play in the Super Division and that makes our game tough, we will just take the game as it comes,” Mutapa said.
The other two quarters will see Zanaco play Power Dynamos and Napsa facing Green Buffaloes.