2019 Transitional League: Stream A recap
The Transitional League Stream A was nothing short of drama as the season concluded on Saturday, with two teams going down to the second tier of Zambian football, The National Division One, while two others secured places in the CAF Interclub competitions and semifinal Berths in the rebranded ABSA Cup 2019.
Kitwe United in Stream A who managed to accumulate only eleven (11) points, two (2) better than bottom placed Prison Leopards who could only manage nine points from the eighteen matches of the transitional season. It’s so long to the Kitwe City Council and Zambia Correctional Services sides as they will now be meeting in the National Division One.
Mufulira Wanderers escaped the drop following their three draws and a victory in their last four games, but one would also attribute luck to their survival as the teams that were chasing them were also dropping points. Once again, the survival specialist Elijah Chikwanda has done it for Green and White ‘’Maite” side as they get a second chance to stay in the elite league and continue chanting “tatwakaye”!. At the close of the league Wanderers were also awarded three points following, Prison Leopards use of an ineligible player in the two teams meeting in Kabwe and hence finished above Nakambala Leopards.
For Nakambala Leopards it was business as usual as they ended in eighth place in Stream A with seventeen points from eighteen matches, in which they managed to get twelve goals, four coming against a goal leaking defense of Zanaco. Mazabuka will still have Super League representation after another survival season for the Sugar Boys.
Green Buffaloes dismal start to the Transitional League could not be rectified by the recalling of Bilton Kuba Musonda and Christopher Katongo on the bench. The Zambia Army sponsored side only managed four wins, two under Charles Bwale who was dismissed following a poor run of form midway the season by Musonda who could also only manage to win two matches as that summarized the poor run the team have exhibited throughout the entire campaign. Better luck next time, Go Boys Fight and Conquer!
The Elite Lusaka Dynamos will be ruing their administrative troubles this season following FIFA’s decision to deduct six (6) points following the premature termination of contracts for a wagon of players who came to joined the side in 2017. Lusaka Dynamos were one of the most form sides in Stream A, which saw them beat Zesco United, Green Buffaloes and Zanaco during the course of the season. Mathematically, Lusaka Dynamos are top of the Stream and would be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Orlando Pirates, Horoya, Zamalek, TP Mazembe and the other de la cream of African football. But wait, there is a reported appeal by the club and it is hoped they will be given back the points and will end up topping Stream A with 34 points should it come to pass.
Stellar performances by the talisman Chris Mugalu, Petrus Tshitembi, big George Chilufya, Monga Ndala, Marvin Jere among other players who stood out for the Lusaka based Super League side. Despite all the financial troubles during the season, the Lusaka Dynamos team played their hearts out.
“Njanji ni Njanji”, was the most trending chant in the various stadiums that Warriors visited this season. The team went seventeen matches undefeated, winning seven and drawing ten matches in the unbeaten run for the Kabwe based giants. The belief among the fans and the players was immense, as the season was winding up. The ultimate test was the match against Red Arrows on the last day of the transitional league.
The draws accumulated by Warriors was the undoing that came to haunt them on the last day, in front of a full packed Godfrey Chitalu Stadium (about 17 thousand fans in attendance) Warriors continental dreams were shuttered by the Zambia Army side via a Paul Katema goal in the 30th minute to give Arrows a win. Warriors ended the season on thirty-one points in fourth placed despite losing only once, scoring twenty-two goals, allowing thirteen goals throughout the entire season.
The Airmen under the tutelage of Chisi Mbewe have shown some much class, not only against midtable or relegation fighting side but also against the top dogs like Zanaco, Lusaka Dynamos, Zesco United and Kabwe Warriors, who were also in contention for a continental spot.
Red Arrows managed to win nine matches, drew six, and lost only three to end in third position, just failing out on a CAF Confed and ABSA spot due to inferior goals difference compared to the likes of Zanaco and Zesco United. Their twenty-five goals were not enough as they leaked in fifteen goals.
Despite having the worst defense in Stream A, the Bankers, Sensational Zanaco managed to sneak into the ABSA Cup on the last day and will return to the CAF Confed Cup since 2018 when they were eliminated by Mbabane Swallows of eSwatini. The Bankers shipped in twenty-eight goals, more than any other side in the Stream but kudos go to their prolific strike force that registered the most goals (40) in the two streams combined, which was followed by Zesco (35).
Zanaco saw a lot of changes to their defense and goalkeeping department than any other side in the top four. For the Numba Mumamba led technical bench there be no time to rest as they need to find a lasting solution to their defensive woes. Congratulations the Bankers!
Lazarous Kambole’s brace and a goal from John Ching’andu were enough to condemn Kitwe United to National Division and ensure that Zesco United get the top slot in Stream A. A season that started with a group stage exit in the Confed Cup which comprised of Nkana, Asante Kotoko and Al Hilal saw the defending champions of the Super League fail to advance to the knockout stages something that was not well received by the ardent Zesco fans.
Calls for the removal of head coach George Lwandamina from were echoed almost at every matchday and that saw most fans stay away from the matches the team played both in the Confed group match and a couple of the Super League matches.
However, after a meeting with the club’s top officials, there was change and the attendance went up again, and Zesco United went on to win nine matches, drawn six while losing three times, with their biggest defeat (4-1) since 2015 when they lost four-nil to Zanaco.
“Zega Mambo” will once again transverse across the African continent as they continue their quest to conquer Africa. Zesco will now face Green Eagles in the Super League playoff to determine who reigns supreme in the Transitional Super League.
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