On any other day, a regular script would have labelled Young Green Buffaloes as the underdog because of the tier they compete in and a lack of considerable experience at the higher reaches of Cup Competitions. However, they have written their own script by eliminating two sides that have been in the Top 4 of Zambia’s Super league in at least 2 of the last 3 Seasons in Zanaco and Parent Club Green Buffaloes Football club.

Against such a run in the Barclays cup thus far, they have to be viewed as equals against Nkana (History books aside-only 2018 cup run in consideration) and a fierce competitor.

What makes this Final a cagey one to call and with it bringing excitement and anticipation? Here is a breakdown of what both sides bring to the table and why none should be considered a Top dog or vice-versa.

Young Buffaloes have been oozing with confidence from the time they dispatched MUZA FC in the pre-quarter finals and the subsequent two rounds have taken this confidence higher yet thankfully it hasn’t got to their heads and have still remained level headed on their quest to re-write history.

To get this far, Peter Mutale’s charges have relied on a solid defensive base that has seen them concede only 2 goals in 3 Matches. Defences win titles and their defence has carried them thus far, they will hope to have it see them over the last hurdle. The Young side has also showed wonderful chemistry and this has aided the consistency in selection. Playing with the same players from game to game always helps the team as proper chemistry gets quarter of the job done.

The backline which operates on a traditional back four with limited forward forays from the full backs, has been sound in the man to man marking, closing won the useful spaces for the opponents and have been backed up by their excellent goalkeeper Mfula.

Additionally, they have displayed tactical nous in their matches. They have employed a short passing game and when need has arisen they have mixed it up with long diagonals but their greatest attacking attribute has been their use of the wings where new Zambia Under 20 call up Emmanuel Mwiinde has looked useful as well as fans favourite Nebert Musamba whenever he has come on.

On the other hand, their much fancied opponents Nkana F.C will know that underrating Young Buffaloes will be at their own peril going by the trail of destruction they have left behind. The Red side of Kitwe were the strongest side in the second half of the League season and will want to continue on the same path by claiming some silver wear to show for their efforts in the 2018 season.

Club Top scorer Idriss Mbombo trekked to Sudan in a much publicised deal but they still remain strong as goals can come from those that played the supporting cast in their near imperious league run toward the end of the season and his loss will be further mitigated by their impressive midfielders who seem to be developing a shot passing game and have a lovely directness about their player which creates chances with impressive regularity as Chisala, Kampamba and Ngulube get licence to operate as improved Malambo provides a solid defensive base.

Further, Nkana’s fuel on this journey has been the knowledge that this is the only active cup competition they have not won and their desire to show that they ought to be in the same bracket as those that have dominated local football in the last decade.

Plenty of similarities exist between the two sides such as will to succeed, not being shaken on the big stage, drive for results regardless of the hurdle and collective belief. Further, On the footballing side both have solid defences, they don’t shy away from imposing their game and are willing to take as much as they give.

Nkana will not want to be remembered as the side that lost a final to a lower league side and Young Buffaloes will want not to remain in the same bracket as Chambishi Blackburn as a division one side that only reached the Final but will want to stand alone at the end of it all, win it.

The two sides may be campaigning in different tiers but share common ambition. The battle lines have been drawn and whoever wants it most, will go for it. After all, on the evidence of the path to the final, there is no underdog.


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