Thursday Aug 12, 2021. 08:42
Defender Solomon Sakala has just completed his best season at Zesco United so far since joining the FAZ Super League champions four years ago.
The 2017 AFCON U20 winning captain finally broke into the first team in January as new coach Mumamba Numba began to refresh Zesco en route to winning their ninth league title at the end of the 2020/2021 FAZ Super League season.
Sakala good form has also seen him earn a Chipolopolo recall for next month’s FIFA World Cup Group B qualifiers against Mauritania and Tunisia.
Africanfootball caught up with Sakala to talk about his memorable season and his 2021/2022 prospects.
AF: You have just finished what was your most successful season at Zesco since joining them four years ago from Napsa Stars, describe the feeling.
SOLOMON SAKALA: I was very happy with my performance at the club because I really wanted to work hard this time.
I haven’t been in the first team for over the last two years and I just wasn’t in the team regularly.
I am happy with my performance and especially winning the title as part of the first team.
AF: Coach Numba showed great faith in you since January, are you surprised by the confidence he had in your abilities?
SS: I can’t really say that, but I think I have worked very hard to earn my place in the team. It has really been down to working hard in training and in the game that the coach picked me.
AF: Would you describe this as your best season since you arrived at Zesco in 2018?
SS: Yes it has. I told myself I can’t continue sitting on the bench all the time or out of the team for that matter.
I really needed to work hard last season to get some game time.
AF: What are your prospects for next season?
SS: Since we are playing in the CAF Champions League, I hope to play more games and improve as a player. So far, our aim is to reach the group stage and thereafter quarterfinals and then see how we go from there.
AF: Do you believe your performances last season have been enough for you to consistently keep your place in the national team?
SS: That is what I am hoping for but will continue working on because I really wanted to go back to the national team.
AF: Zesco missed out on the double last season after failing to retain the ABSA Cup, how much was winning the league a compensation for that disappointment?
SS: It was so sad we couldn’t win the ABSA Cup because the club and the players wanted both cups but we are happy that we at least managed to win the league.
AF: At one point, Zesco enjoyed a ten-match winning run in their last nineteen games but later picked up just five wins on that final stretch, weren’t you guys worried that the wheels were coming off in the league race?
SS: At that point we knew we needed to encourage each other after working so hard to stay unbeaten. We just couldn’t let it slip away and that is why we pushed ourselves so hard in our last games.
AF: Who do you think would be the biggest threats to Zesco’s defence of the league title next season?
SS: No team specifically but I think many teams have improved so much and we have just to raise our standards too. Everyone is improving each day and we just have to work very hard.
AF: You have now been a Zesco player for four years now; do we see Solomon Sakala extending his contract with Zesco?
SS: I extended my contract for two more years and now I have one more year left. I am hoping to do well in the Champions League and then hope to see where I go after that.
AF: Finally, your former club Napsa Stars have been relegated, how much did that affect you?
SS: It is so sad but it is football. I cannot say much but it was so sad to see them struggling like that.