Zesco United: Belief and attitude of foreign legion a motivation
Zesco United’s line-up these days reads like a gathering of an African Union summit.
The contribution of its six foreign legions has been a critical component in their 2016 Orange CAF Champions League campaign and that is something the club’s Chief Executive Officer Justin Mumba has admitted is not a secret.
Kenyan striker Jesse Were who arrived this season from Tusker FC has scored four goals so far in the CAF Champions League as the Zambians are just a game away from a historic place at the final.
On the homefront, Were is also leading Zesco’s charge for their third straight domestic league title with 12 league goals, just two behind Nkana forward Walter Bwalya.
DR Congo-born striker Idris Mbombo who arrived by way of promoted side Kabwe Warriors, where he scored 23 goals to help them gain entry to the top flight, has also made instant impact in Zesco’s success story in the competition this season. Mbombo is Zesco’s top scorer in the CAF Champions League with five goals.
Zesco also made three more shrewd signings at the start of 2016 with Ivorian-born Niger international defender Ben Bahn Adama and Kenyan defensive midfielder Anthony Akumu.
Both arrived with continental experience with Bahn arriving from AS Kaloum of Guinea who interestingly eliminated Zesco from the 1/16th round of the same competition in 2015.
Akumu too was spotted in continental action and Zesco United didn’t travel far to scout him.
His caught the interest of officials of the Zambian champions whilst featuring for Sudanese side, Al Khartoum who face Zesco’s rivals, Power Dynamos in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The quartet complements earlier arrivals; Nigerian Ayo Oluwafemi who joined from South African outfit University of Pretoria and fullback David Odhiambo, who was signed from Kenyan giants, Gor Mahia. The duo is in their second season.
“They have all brought a different dimension because of their attitude. They may not be high profile African players but these are players who are ready to partner with us and have brought their skills to help the club and they have stood up well,” Mumba said.
“Their belief and attitude has also helped motivate our local players. Ben Adama is experienced in the CAF Champions League and also brings with him leadership.”
Adama is Zesco’s vice captain and skippered the team in their first three matches of the group stage, when substantive skipper Jacob Banda was on medical leave.
“Odhiambo is in his second year at the club and is growing from strength to strength.
“Akumu came from Sudan and also has added value with his experience in continental football.
“Jesse Were was perhaps a novice but he has added value to the attack.”
Were arrived this season to fill the shoes of prolific Chipolopolo striker Winston Kalengo, who left last December to join Congolese side, AC Leopards and the Kenyan’s turnover has been instant.
Meanwhile, Mumba revealed that Zesco’s recruitment policy for their current continental success came from some very neighbourly advice from a seasoned campaigner in African football.
“The whole idea came two years ago when we were invited by TP Mazembe for a friendly tournament in Lubumbashi,” Mumba said.
“The Mazembe guys told us that if we wanted to be successful in continental football, we had to import some good players to complement the locals. TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns have the money to buy whoever they want but we don’t have that kind of money to buy the big names. But we decided we will do it at a smaller scale.
“What is cardinal is to bring in the right foreign players who understand what you want to do and fit into your ambitions,” Mumba concluded.
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