A deeper look at Zambia’s CAF Champions League envoys
The draws for the preliminary round of Africa’s biggest club competition, the Total CAF Champions League took place on 10th November 2020. Zambian Super League Champions Nkana will travel to Lesotho to face Bantu FC before hosting the fellow Southern African club at the famous Chilata Stadium.
The winner over the two legs will then square off against the victors of the game between Akonangui and Athletico Petroleos of Angola. While Forest Rangers who were the runners up to Nkana in the FAZ/MTN Super League will take on AS Bouenguidi of Gabon. The winner of that two-legged tie will battle it out with five-time CAF Champions League winners TP Mazembe.
On paper, it looks like Nkana has an easier route of reaching the group stage of the competition but football is played on the pitch, it comes down to who has prepared better than the other. The Wusakile based side have started the 2020/2021 season on a low note having won one of the three games played, and only managed to score one goal this far.
This is what seemingly prompted the reaction from the Executive to start talks with George “chicken” Lwandamina according to yo reports. The former ZESCO United coach has a good track record in the elite continental club tournament, having lead “Zega Mambo” to the semi-finals of this competition.
Being the first and only Zambian coach to have ever gone that far and If Nkana gets manage to secure his services he will be expected to put things back for the Kitwe based side, who in their two previous appearances in the prestigious competition has only managed to reach the play-off stage.
One of the biggest problems the Nkana technical bench needs to solve is to get these players playing as a collective as opposed to individual brilliance like we have seen in most cases with Patrick Gondwe in the Charity shield and Idriss Ilunga Mbombo against Kabwe Warriors.
In their first two games of the season, Nkana looked like a side that was rebuilding their side having lost key players, the likes of Musa Mohammed, Kelvin Kampamba, and Duncan Otieno. It will be important for Kalampa to get the newly acquired players to blend in and start playing coordinated football as a team. The blended side should normalize and reduce or completely end Nkana’s overdependence on the likes of Idris Mbombo. This error if left unattended will prove fatal for the team.
Forest rangers started the 2020/21 season like a house on fire, having beaten the likes of ZESCO United and Nkana who share a combined total of 21 league titles. “Fole Malembe” needs to maintain its winning momentum as they are most likely to face TP Mazembe once or if they manage to negotiate their way past Gabonese Champions AS Bouenguidi.
In previous encounters, no Zambian club has gone past the group stage against TP Mazembe. The good part of the play-offs is that each team has a fair chance of going through to the next round because the matches are played home and away. If a team aspires to reach the group stage of the CAF Champions League they need to have a solid back four, one that is not prone to conceding a lot of goals, besides the team needs to have a coordinated strike-force which will get the needed goals. Unlike Nkana, Forest Rangers don’t depend on one player, they tend to share goal-scoring responsibilities.
The preliminary round ties will be held between 20-29 November 2020. While the play-offs round is scheduled between 11- 20 of December 2020.
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