Zesco United’s hopes of retaining the league were dented following a 1-0 defeat away to Nkwazi in a rescheduled Week 29 fixture played at Edwin Imboela Stadium on Wednesday.
George Lwandamina was in charge of the defending champions despite reports he had dumped the side to take charge of Tanzanian giants Young Africans.
Perhaps the speculation surrounding the future of their coach is having a telling effect on the Champions League semifinalists as they put on an insipid display in a game they needed to win to maintain their title charge.
The Ndola giants had stayed in contention after playing out a goalless draw with leaders Zanaco on Saturday but Nkwazi who had started the day in 10th position did not do them any favours as Mwila Kabwe broke their hearts with a 35th minute strike.
The result left George Lwandamina’s side in fourth position with 50 points after 24 games before they face Green Buffaloes on Saturday who are on 48 points in fifth. They have four matches in hand on Zanaco who lead the standings with 65 points.
Lwandamina refused to read too much into the loss but reckons that his side will need to win the rest of their matches until the end of the season to stay in contention.
“A loss is a loss, and this is just like any other loss. Nkwazi had one half chance and they scored from it. We only played well in the last ten minutes when we tried to push but we couldn’t get a goal.
“This is a setback because we wanted to maximize on the points so that we narrow the gap between the league leaders and ourselves. We have to work hard and collect maximum points in the coming games if we are to stay in contention,” Lwandamina said.
Nkwazi have a better head to head record against Zesco United since 2011. In eight meetings dating back to 16 April 2011 the Police outfit has recorded four victories, three draws and a single defeat which was recorded in this season’s the reverse fixture played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on 16 April.
Nkwazi coach Albert Mpande described the victory as sweet.
“It is a sweet victory for Nkwazi because as you know Zesco is very tactical and they are a level above us based on their experience in Caf competitions.
“My advice to my players is that we should not become complacent after defeating Zesco because the race is not yet over. We need to stay disciplined in the upcoming games. Otherwise this is s sweet victory,” said Mpande.
Nkwazi travel to Nchanga Rangers for their Week 31 fixture on Saturday.