ZESCO United Football Club is a Zambian professional football club based in Ndola that plays in the Zambian Premier league. Founded on January 1, 1974, the club have spent most of their history in the top tier of Zambian football. The club’s home ground is the 49,800-seat Levy Mwanawasa stadium in Ndola, Northern Zambia, where they have played their home games since the ground was opened in 2012.
The club is wholly owned and sponsored by the state-owned electricity supplier ZESCO.
ZESCO United had their first major success in 1980, winning the old Zambian Division One. After a barren trophy-less spell, they added to that success in the late 2000s as they won another Zambian Division One title in 2003, the FAZ Premier League in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2014, the Barclays Cup in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2014, the Zambian Charity Shield in 2007 and 2011, the 2006 Mosi Cup, and the 2007 Zambian Coca Cola Cup.
History and Records
ZESCO United was founded in 1974. They became the first Zambian club to qualify for the CAF African Champions League Group stage in 2009. ZESCO United are one of only 3 Zambian clubs including Nkana and Green Buffaloes who hold an all-time unbeaten home record against non-Zambian opposition. ZESCO United also became the first Zambian Club this century to play against European opposition when they played against Zenit Saint Petersburg in Abu Dhabi in 2008.
Effects of the International Flavor
ZESCO United are the Zambian club with the largest number of foreign players in the country. In the 2015 season, a Nigerian, Kenyan, and Tanzanian flavor was added to the team with the arrivals of Ayo Oluwafemi and Christopher Chigozie (both from Nigeria), as well as David Owino from Kenya and Juma Luzio from Tanzania. The previous season saw the arrival of Togolese defender Emmanuel Mathias.
From the club’s foundation until 2012, ZESCO United played their home games at the Trade Fair Grounds. They now play at the Estadio de la Levy Mwanawasa, which was officially opened on June 2, 2012. Designed by the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co. Ltd, the Estadio de la Levy Mwanawasa is used mostly for football matches, and occasionally for athletics events.
The stadium was erected at a cost of US $65 million with a capacity slightly over 40,000. And for the first time, the local football body – FAZ – raked in over 500,000 dollars for a single match in a World Cup qualifier against Ghana in June 2012, which Zambia won 1-0.
Kelvin Mutafu, the FAZ treasurer, said from gate takings alone the body raked in about K2 billion. That is minus adding such revenue as broadcasting and commercial rights for the sell-out match.
On completion of the stadium, the Chinese construction company expressed delight, particularly with their co-operation with the football crazy southern African nation.
Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co. Ltd, the construction company, whose Ndola project was courtesy of China’s Commerce ministry and department of aid to foreign countries, completed their assignment within 26 months.
They credit the successful completion of the project to all parties including the local casual workers who contributed immeasurable hours of hard work to deliver a world-class structure.
Crest and Colors
Since the club’s foundation, ZESCO United have had various crests, which all underwent minor variations.
Traditionally, ZESCO United have always worn orange home kits, with green and white as their away and third colors respectively.
ZESCO United are one of the most widely supported Zambian football team in Zambia itself, Africa, and the world. They are passionately known by their fans as Zescolo, Team ya Ziko or Team Zega Mambo (with the motto “més que un club” meaning “more than just a club” having been adopted by their Colombian fans). ZESCO United’s traditional fanbase comes from all over the Copperbelt as well as other wealthy parts of Zambia like the capital, Lusaka.
ZESCO United made history in the mid 2010s when they became the Zambian team with the largest overseas fan-base. They have a large, growing community of Colombian fans, with numerous official supporters clubs in Colombia and several other parts of Latin America. ZESCO United are one of the highest ranked African teams in terms of annual replica kit overseas sales, with the Colombian fans being by far the largest market.
ZESCO United’s move in 2012 to their ultra-modern US $65 million Estadio de la Levy Mwanawasa has been one of the major contributing factors in improving the atmosphere at home matches.
ZESCO United has also managed to increase their fanbase in the far reaches of Asia, namely Turkmenistan and some parts of the then Mongolian Empire. Ganboldyn Bilgüün, descendant of the great Genghis Khan, had an unsuccessful trial at ZESCO United. However his fervor for the club did not diminish and after successfully breaking into the first team of Erchim FC, he founded the first supporters club in overseas Asia. (citation needed)
ZESCO United’s traditional rivalries are against fellow title contenders like Zanaco, Nkana, Power Dynamos, and NAPSA Stars.
- Primera Division de Zambia: 5
- 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015
- Barclays Cup: 4
- 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014
- Zambian Charity Shield: 3
- 2007, 2011, 2015
- Mosi Cup: 1
- Zambian Coca Cola Cup: 1
- Zambian Division One: 2
- 1980, 2003
Performance in CAF competitions
- CAF Champions League: 4 appearances
- 2008 – Last 32
- 2009 – Group Stage
- 2011 – Last 16
- 2015 – Last 32
- CAF Confederation Cup: 3 appearances
- 2006 – Last 32
- 2010 – First Round
- 2013 – Last 16