Barclays Cup thrills are back

Green Eagles Football Club

THE K2 million-rich Barclays Cup thrills spin back to life this weekend with three-time winners, Zesco United being the only past champion participating in the seventh edition.
Defending champions, Napsa Stars and two-time holders, Power Dynamos will miss out of the 2013 competition after failing to make a top six cut as at Week 15 in the MTN Premiership.
Barclays Bank is dangling a K200, 000 cheque for this year’s winner with the losing finalists pocketing K100,000.
The battle to outwit each other will also spill over to coaches from the eight finalists as they will be eyeing the Coach of the Tournament award which carries a K10,000 prize tag while on the field of play, the players will fight for the K5,000-rich Player of the Tournament?accolade.
This weekend’s quarter-finals have thrown up some juicy fixtures with defending league champions, Zanaco clashing with arch rivals, Nchanga Rangers while 2004 league winners, Red Arrows will duel with Division One North side, National Assembly.
Zesco have Division One South, Green Eagles to deal with in their quest for a record fourth Barclays Cup title while legendary cup fighters, Nkana have a tough test against Green Buffaloes.
However, the four quarter-final matches have been split into two with the first two sets battling it out today in a double header at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka which will be broadcast live on both pay television SuperSport and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
Arrows v Assembly (12:45 hours)
Arrows have a seemingly easy ride to the semi-finals of the 2013 Barclays Cup competition as they face lower division side, National Assembly in the lunchtime kick-off today.
However, Assembly, with nothing to lose, are capable of providing a potential ‘banana’ skin for Arrows’ and George Lwandamina’s ‘airmen’ will do well not to underrate the ‘parliamentarians’ in this fixture at Nkoloma Stadium.
Lwandamina, whose charges’ last accolade was a 2005 Charity Shield, conceded that playing teams from the lower echelons of the local league structure was a difficult assignment.
“Playing a Division One side is the hardest part because their game is quick and fast. But we shall do our best to excel to the next round,” Lwandamina said.
But Assembly secretary, Moffat Phiri was confident of rolling over Arrows whom he said were always their good ‘customers’.
International players, Bruce Musakanya, Bronson Chama, Jimmy Chisenga and goalkeeper Danny Munyau hold the key to Arrows’ success.
Rangers v Zanaco (15:15 hours)
Having won the Barclays Cup with Zesco United three years ago, coach Fighton Simukonda will hope his ‘magical’ touch will help Nchanga Rangers emerge victorious this year.
Rangers have not won any silverware for over a decade with their last cup achievement being the 2002 Charity Shield.
Simukonda has a huge task of turning Rangers into cup winners and the first assignment will be to knock out defending league champions, Zanaco today.
On their part, Zanaco, apart from league achievements, managed to win the now defunct Coca-Cola Cup in 2004 and the Charity Shield in 2006 and coach Keagan Mumba will be more than satisfied to add the Barclays Cup to the rich trophy cabinet at Sunset Stadium.
Zanaco assistant coach, Aggrey Chiyangi declared that 2013 was the year the bankers would win the elusive Barclays Cup after failing to do so in the past editions.
Rangers will be hoping to complete a double over Zanaco in Lusaka this season after winning their Week 10 league fixture 1-0 at Sunset but Chiyangi promised a different approach to this tie.
Both teams have talented players capable of winning on their day. Simukonda will depend on the likes of Felix Nyaende, Bornwell Mwape, Alex Ng’onga, David Kalandanya and George Chilufya among others while Mumba has Moses Phiri, Roderick Kabwe, Davies Mwape, Potipher Zulu, Fackson Kapumbu and Henry Banda as potential match-winners.??Action returns at Nkoloma Stadium tomorrow with Zesco tackling Eagles and Nkana facing Buffaloes.
The semi-finals will be held on October 26 at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe while Nkoloma will host the final on November 23.