Tuesday Oct 12, 2021. 16:00
Champions Zesco United return to league action this Wednesday after the two-week FIFA international match break when they visit Kabwe Warriors at Godfrey “Ucar’ Chitalu Stadium in Kabwe.
Warriors and Zesco meet in this rescheduled Week 2 match after it was postponed in mid-September due to their continental obligations in the CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League respectively.
Zesco hope to make amends in Kabwe after suffering their first league loss of the season on September 29 when newcomers Kafue Celtic beat them 2-0 away in Lusaka.
That result left Zesco in 11th position on 6 points from three games played and are currently ten points behind leaders Green Buffaloes who have played six matches.
Warriors are third from bottom at number 16 on 4 points as they prepare to clear their last backlog fixture after five games played.
But the pressure is on Zesco coach Mumamba Numba who must now carefully plot on collecting maximum points in their three-match backlog following their recent CAF Champions League exit.
Furthermore, half of Zesco’s first team was on international duty with most call-ups seeing little or no action during their respective FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Numba is also hoping not to see a repeat of the poor form he observed immediately after the last international break that saw Zesco lose 1-0 away to Eswatini side Royal Leopards in the CAF Champions League preliminary round, first leg match on September 11.
“I think we saw this when we played Royal Leopards. Those that were inactive during the international games failed to perform when they came back,” Numba said.
“Our prayers are that when these players go to their national teams, they get enough game time because that is good for the club.”
One player who will be praying for a vote of confidence is Kenyan goalkeeper Ian Otieno who was substituted at halftime of The Harambee Stars 5-0 away loss to Mali on October 7 after shipping in four goals.
Otieno did not even make the team for Sunday’s final leg in Nairobi that Kenya lost 1-0.
Zesco had four players on Zambia duty who included goalkeeper Gregory Sanjase and defender Simon Silwimba but midfielders Dickson Chapa and Kelvin Mubanga were the only ones to have played a game each.
But Zesco will be without Zimbabwe midfielder Thabani Kamusoko who was in action on October 12 at home against Ghana.
Meanwhile, Warriors will be hoping to extend their recovery run to three games on October 9 without a loss after drawing 0-0 with Indeni away and beating Konkola Blades on October 2 to halt their three-match losing start to the season.