Barclays Cup final promises sparks

RED Arrows Football CLUB

THE K2 million-rich 2013 Barclays Cup final between Red Arrows and Nchanga Rangers promises to be an exciting and breathtaking match as it brings to the fore statistics of the two dinosaurs rolling back the years to clash at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium.

Both teams have not lifted any silverware in almost a decade with the Chingola based-Rangers having last won a trophy in 2004 – the Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu Charity Shield, which is also the last trophy that Lusaka’s Arrows won in 2005.

Save for the Charity Shield, Rangers have to go back to 1998 when they picked up some form of silverware in the Zambian Premier League title, while Arrows’ most recent was in 2004 when they were crowned league kings.

Today’s seventh edition of the Barclays Cup, however, will see one of one of this pair writing their own history as at the end of the day only one team will have their name etched on the 2013 Trophy, to become the first between the two to have won some silverware in almost a decade.

Winners of this year’s tournament will pocket K200,000 with the runners-up getting K100,000, while the coach and player of the tournament will receive K10, 000 and K5,000, respectively.

Zesco United have won the title three times, Power Dynamos have hoisted it twice with Lusaka-based Napsa Stars having won last year’s edition to break the monotony of Copperbelt teams winning the trophy.

“It will be a great match for the fans; a match between two teams that play neat passing football. It will be tough because both teams know this is the last chance to pick up silverware this season. But I must say here that I want the trophy,” said Arrows coach George Lwandamina.

Indeed Lwandamina boasts of a youthful but exciting squad that at the end of the 2013 league season bragged to have the meanest defence, together with Zesco to have conceded 22 goals; four of them at Nkana on the closing day.

Arrows was again one of the three teams together with Zesco and Nkana to have lost the fewer number of games and their fifth place finish was not embarrassing for the Zambia Air Force (ZAF)-sponsored outfit.

But today’s Barclays Cup final is a perfect opportunity for the airmen to lay a claim on some form of ornament to show off to the ZAF command and to do that, Lwandamina needs a proficient midfield to dictate play.

And that will mean that the two internationals; Bruce Msakanya and Shaderick Malambo will have to stand out and create chances for Stanley Nshimbi and Lubinda Mundia with Bronson Chama and Jimmy Chisenga providing cover for goalie Danny Munyau.

On the other hand Fighton Simokonda is a more experienced coach who knows a lot about cup finals and claims one of the Barclays Cup titles at Zesco and should be able to come up with a formidable team to get his hands on the title.

“We have worked all season to get to where we are and we are thankful to our sponsors (KCM). So we want to dedicate the winning of the Barclays Cup to them as a way of saying thank you,” said Simukonda whose side finished third on the league table.

He has a magnificent attack-minded squad that has the likes of Bornwell Mwape, Felix Nyaende and the powerful Alex Ng’onga on the wing, with the creative Patrick ‘animal’ Kasunga to orchestrate play in midfield.

At the back, Rangers will look to George Chilufya to marshal the defence and help new national team call up Toaster Nsabata keep a clean sheet in goal.

Arrows have had it easier to get to the final where they first dispatched National Assembly 3-1 and later whacked Green Buffaloes 2-0 in the semifinals, with Rangers needing penalties to see off Zanaco and then dug deep to beat Zesco 1-0 in the other semi-final.

Arrows and Rangers meet twice in the league, drawing 2-2 in the first leg before squarring off again to 1-1 draw at home in Chingola in the reverse fixture.

So at the end of today, the winner will no longer be viewed as a dinosaur, but an evolved fossil.