PRESIDENT’S CORNER: 2021 Season Weathers Covid Storm to Successfully Close
The curtains came down on the FAZ/MTN and Eden University National Division One leagues. What a way to end the season with so much breath-taking football especially at the bottom where the competition was stiffer. In the Eden University National Division One we joined the Konkola Blades and Mufulira Wanderers families in the final day’s contest that saw the host team at Shinde Stadium win 1-0 but still miss out on qualification to the Super League. On the other end in Lusaka, Chambishi won 1-0 against Malaiti Rangers to qualify to the MTN Super League. Such was the atmosphere on the final day that it was not clear who was going to grab the final slot for qualification although Konkola Blades, Kafue Celtic and Kansanshi Dynamos had already booked their ticket before the final day.
In the Super League, the stakes were higher with the relegation contest keeping the fans on their tenterhooks as to which team would join Kitwe United, Lumwana Radiants and Napsa Stars in the Eden University League. In the end it was Young Green Eagles that closed the bottom four relegated sides’ bracket. Zesco United re-enforced their champion status by emphatically whipping Buildcon 7-2 at Arthur Davies Stadium where the coronation was hosted. We once again congratulate them and also extend our salute to the four teams that will represent us in CAF competitions in the 2021-2022 season. These are Zesco United, Zanaco, Red Arrows amd Kabwe Warriors.
Such is the excitement of our league that the whole continent was keeping track of the final day. Thankfully, our television partners Top Star, ZNBC and SuperSport were on board to beam some of the matches. It is a partnership that we are happy to sustain especially under the Covid-19 pandemic that kept fans away from stadia.
It is not by accident that we have retained our four slots in CAF competitions for the 2021-2022 season.
Zambia joins Angola and South Africa among the 12 countries who will be given an added slot in next season’s African club competitions, meaning two teams in each of the African Champions League and African Confederation Cup.
The other countries allowed two representatives are Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Tunisia.
Our advice to our representatives is that they should improve their performance to ensure that we maintain our slots in the CAF competitions. Zambia should target to not only consistently reach the group stages but aim to win the competition. We have garnered enough experience from participation and expect that we step up our performance to be serious contenders.
Finally, we are happy that we have been able to conclude the season with all the games played on the pitch despite the Covid-19 challenges. We did take a lot of lessons from the 2019-2020 season that helped us plan better for the 2020/2021 season where we partnered with the Zambia Media Association who handled our Covid-19 protocols. We shall continue to draw on lessons of the past to improve the management of the game in Covid-19 situations.
Congratulations to the winners of the various leagues and wishing the teams that have been relegated better luck as they seek to find their way back to promotion. Let me also thank government for allowing us to play our games as the nation observes national mourning in honour of our First President Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda. The First President having been an ardent soccer fan and patron would be smiling down on us as we seek to keep the game he loved going. Go well Super Ken.
Have a productive week and remember to keep safe.