Explaining the 2019 ZSL transitional season
The Zambia Super Division also popularly referred to as Zambia Super League among many fans closed the second round of fixtures on Wednesday 06/02/2019. However, a lot of questions have not been answered fully as fans out there have plenty of them among them being: why the league is in two streams, what is the main objective, why not just stick to the old regular format and a lot more.
Against this background, I attempt to answer some of the questions on the 2019 Transitional league.
In July 2017 at a CAF Meeting in Morocco, the executive committee proposed that the African football calendar be adjusted for two main reasons. The first being to align the entire continent and its games to 75% of other Leagues that run their leagues from September of one year through to May of the following year and the other to stick to the new timeline of CAF’s flagship tournament, the AfCON.
This proposal was finally agreed upon and Football Associations on the continent being directed by CAF to change their league calendars in April 2018. Among the many countries affected by this change were Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
In response, the football association of Zambia (FAZ) had to act and came up with the 2019 Super Division transitional league.
With the new CAF Calendar set to take effect in August/September 2019, FAZ had to find a way of keeping the league running yet have it completed by May 2019 so that it does not collide with the 2019 AfCON which will start in June and to give clubs ample time to prepare for league season 2019/2020 which will start in August/September 2019.
The league with 20 teams could not have been played within 5 Months with teams facing each other on home and away basis hence the idea of splitting the teams into two groups of 10 (Stream A and B) was arrived at by a special committee in consultation with stake holders.
The streams were made in respect to league table finishes from the 2018 Super league with those who finished in odd number positions being in stream A and those in even number positions being in stream B.
This in effect means clubs will only play 18 games between January and May as compared to 38 games over the same period.
THE ROLL OUT
After a home and away basis of play in both streams, the top two teams will qualify to continental games. The winners in each stream will go to the Champions league while the runners up will go to the confederation cup.
Further, to decide the outright winners of the transitional 2019 season the top teams from the respective streams will face off in a playoff and the winners of this match will be the League champions for 2019.
The bottom two in each stream will be relegated to Division one at the end of this transitional season.
If all things go as planned, the league should come to a close by Saturday May 25, 2019. However, adjustments may be made owing to rescheduled matches due to Zesco United and Nkana’s involvement in the on-going CAF inter club games and those games that may be put off by inclement weather conditions.
When all goes well, May will be a good time to finish the league and for clubs to rest their players after a gruelling campaign, regroup for pre-season training and prepare adequately for new 2019/2020 season.
This is a transitional league and the only one were the top tier is split into two streams for the sake of accommodating smooth transition to the new CAF Calendar.
So far, all looks on course.
BEYOND THE 2019 TRANSITIONAL LEAGUE
A new Super League will be born and possibly be run by an independent body to be called the Zambia Premier League (ZPL) with a more commercial and professional touch.
The plan is to have the ZPL have 18 teams that will be made up of 16 teams that will remain from the transitional 2019 league after 4 are demoted and 2 teams that will be promoted from Division 1 via a play-off of the 4 teams that will top each of the 4 Division 1 Zone leagues that are already in play.
The top 2 teams from the play-offs will get into the reborn 18 team league that will run from August/September 2019 to may 2020.
STREAM A TEAMS
- Zanaco (6) 2. Zesco United (6) 3. Mufulira Wanderers (4) 4. Kabwe Warriors (4) 5. Nakambala Leopards (3) 6. Green Buffaloes (1) 7. Lusaka Dynamos (1) 8. Red Arrows (1) 9. Prison Leopards (1) 10. Kitwe United (0)
STREAM B TEAMS
- Nkana (4) 2. Buildcon (4) 3. Green Eagles (3) 4. Napsa Stars (3) 5. Power Dynamos (3) 6. Forest Rangers (3) 7. Circuit City (3) 8. Nkwazi (3) 9. Lumwana Radiants (1) 10. MUZA (1)
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