By Collins Makwala in Mpika
One of the fun aspects of the Zambia Super League is its unpredictability.
At this point, forecasting how the things will end after each club plays 18 matches is a tall task.
But what fun would it be if we didn’t at least try?
Here are my take for the teams in Group Two of the 2019 Transitional Super League as we head to June.
Circuit City cruised to promotion from Division One last season and they deserved it, eventually finishing comfortably above second-place rivals Young
But the Super League is a ruthless beast, and Circuit will need all their wits about them if they are to avoid being chewed up and spat out by the big boys.
They don’t have experience in the squad, but the biggest matter will be if they have enough quality? Its right getting back to Division One for me.
Tenant Chembo led Buildcon to 56 points and a eighth-place finish in 2018, his first year with the club, and take note that he found the club struggling for results.
His coming was a significant step up for Team Kopala and I think he did his best.
Now we will see if that was an aberration. Buildcon certainly have talent in their players but the big problem is the way the team keeps changing players.
Tenant starts a full season as a head coach for the first time, but is it enough to propel them into CAF or fight for the league or the ABSA Cup?
I have my serious doubts but this team has to come out good if they want us to believe that they are a big team.
It’s been a strange couple of seasons for Forest Rangers.
Not long ago, the Rangers name was synonymous with bruising, ugly (some would say dirty) play.
At the helm is Perry Mutapa, one of Zambia’s most underrated managers.
With Forest under his tutelage, we may just get to see what tiki-taka looks because he has turned this team into a different team that now plays the passing game.
But the passing game should result into something worth celebrating and for now it doesn’t look like there will be any change.
The team will be fighting to better their position and as usual mid table finish.
‘Toonka Tweende’ waltzed their way to CAF last season and they will be expecting to do the same again this year.
Green Eagles has had an uncharacteristically quiet transfer window, but the team was so good last season that no significant changes were necessary.
It still has one of the best coaches in the country, Aggrey Chiyangi, coaching the the team he has made to believe in themselves.
Spencer Sautu, Ceasor Hakaluba and Mateo Ndashe will once again do their thing and play electrifying football – that is, when Aggrey isn’t parking the bus.
The best case for Green Eagles will be finishing in the top two to get back to CAF.
The worst case would be finishing in third place and below, but going forward, anything other than a CAF slot will be considered failure at Independence Stadium at least this year.
That’s the benchmark we are yet to see if they manage it.
Changes at Lumwana Radiants have certainly come since last season, but who knows if they will lead to progress?
Oswald Mutapa is in charge now and with him come some new players and a change in the team’s tactics.
The biggest problem for Lumwana is the central defensive pairing who shipped in a lot of goals last season and that will be one area Oswald will have to work on and reduce the number of goals conceded from the 40 of last season.
The team desperately needs new blood in that area.
No much expectations but they will survive.
I love the change of name from Manchester to Maestro but MUZA is the big question mark in this year’s Super League, simply because the club has never reached these heights before.
But they have a very good success story of playing zone football once and getting to the super league, can they now sustain the super league status?
Now is their chance to work on the grandest stage and as usual surprise everyone.
If the club can make it through its first few blowouts – which are surely coming – without collapsing, they might have the talent, will and tactical ability to stay in the Super League at least one more year.
But they have to be sure of what they want especially on the coach. Do they want to keep Noel Phiri or not is what this team has to decide before its too late.
Bringing in Coach Muhammad Fathi , when everything was pointing at getting into division one, proved to be a good move, as Napsa Stars finished in 14th, safely out of relegation.
Fathi’s style is never pretty, but it’s almost always effective.
Players like Silavwe and Bonwell fit perfectly into Fathi’s style, perhaps enough to propel them to a strong showing in the Super League.
I think Napsa Stars still need a striker after Adam Zikiru left the club in the middle of agreeing terms.
This will be a tough and short season and hence sharp strikers will be key for honours.
But forget about relegation as Napsa will not be close to that dog fight of surviving.
This may finally be the year for Nkana. After coming close to the title consecutively in the last two seasons.
They are defending Barclay’s Cup Champions , Nkana has a taste for winning and its eyes are on bigger and better prizes.
You can tell by their preparations to games and how they have focused on CAF.
Coach Bestone isn’t as stubborn as he once was and will play whatever style necessary for his team to get a result.
And Nkana’s three problem positions from the last few years – goal keeper, defense and striker — may be fixed.
Allan Chibwe is already proving to be a big step up in the net.
Mussa Muhammad was a revelation last season and will likely build on that success.
And, if the rumors prove to be true, the Kitwe Giants could have Diamond Chikwekwe on the roster by deadline day.
If that happens, Nkana will be as good a team as the Super League has seen in recent memory.
Hence capable of tussling against Zesco United for this title.
Nkwazi achieved nothing but mid-table obscurity last year and their perpetually disgruntled fans continue to wait for a first piece of major silverware.
Or should they start believing that they are just a participant?
Hot-headed manager Chris Kaunda had an eventful 2018 season which saw him leave New Monze Swallows before the season kicked off and found himself head coach at Nkwazi.
He also ran errands with Referees and received a ban.
Cursing like a sailor at gentlemanly referees, he was sent off a couple of times during sideline bust-up.
So I hope he’ll be hoping to hit the headlines for football reasons only this time around.
He’s certainly brought in some exciting young talent.
But we have to see good football and not side line bust ups. As usual mid table .
Last season could have been much different for Power Dynamos had it not been for inconsistency of Alex N’gonga.
A healthy Bazo all season may have helped Power Dynamos give teams like Green Eagles an actual challenge for the CAF slots.
Assuming the strikers stays healthy this season, Power will be back in the thick of things.
With Conlyde Luchanga back at his favorite club, Lameck Kafwaya controlling the midfield and superstars – such as new boy Clifford Saidi – scattered around the pitch, it’s difficult to imagine the Kitwe giants not mounting a significant challenge.
And Power is always better when it’s chasing the title rather than defending it.
The Worst Case here is failure to make it for CAF and search for a new manager come season’s end.