One of the most intriguing lower league contests in years is about to unravel in Faz division 1 in the competitions northern zone when the second tier seasons kicks off this Sunday.
A possible “intermediate league” could manifest itself if all goes according to forecast with demoted Chambishi FC and Kitwe United this year joining fallen giants Mufulira Wanderers and Nkana plus enterprising Afrisports FC in division 1 north.
The five clubs are all pre-season favorites in the hunt for promotion but joining them in the battle will be consistent Prison Leopards of Kabwe who are never far off the pace over the last five years in the race for promotion.
Record 11-time champions Nkana are strong favorites and still have a promising side that has been complement with the arrival of Zambia utility player Mark Sinyangwe who moved to the club from Power Dynamos in the off-season.
Nkana also boast the services of Kenneth “Bubble” Malitoli as head coach while Beston Chambeshi as his technical advisor.
They kickoff against away in a difficult game to Prisons in Kabwe on Sunday and a win will surely put an early shine on the fallen Kitwe giantsâ€™ quest to return to the top-flight after three-straight years in division 1 north.
But their challenge will be even harder with Chambishi aiming for a quick return and Nkanaâ€™s more affluent neighbors from up the Chingola-Kitwe road under Coach Aggrey Chiyangi will not be pushovers.
Chambishi’s financial power means they can still afford to hold on to their best players and attract some promising young fringe performers from the upper leagues.
A 2-0 win over Power a week ago in a pre-season friendly demonstrated Chambishi still had something in them despite a poor 2006 season that saw them stay rooted at the base of the table for most of the 30 matches played and consequently relegated.
Chambishi will be home in week 1 where they host division 1semi-permanent fixture side Lime Hotspurs who are yet to visit the top-flight.
Afrisports meanwhile have openly admitted that this will be their most difficult year ever and that they could face a possible relegation battle due to financial problems.
The entertaining side that gave us Zambia internationals Jacob Mulenga, Ignatius Lwipa and Rainford Kalaba will go back to basics this year and gamble on unknown academy players.
Afrisports have a 50-50 fixture at their Mapili home ground were they host newcomers Chindwin Sentries of Kabwe.
Kitwe United, like Afrisports, is in for a rough ride despite being touted as one of the early promotion contenders.
Financial problems that have consistently dogged the club over the last three years meant they have lost an entire first team, and again like Afrisports, are at square one.
Almost all six products from their very successfully youth system put in place in 2003 have all left to join top-flight clubs.
It will be a difficult season for them under Francis Mutembo and they await Police Blue Eagles in a local derby at Garden Park where they hope the 12th man in their unforgiving fans will help them to a valuable first home win.
And at Shinde, “Mighty” Mufulira Wanderers await army side Kalewa of Ndola and after a low profile off-season we await to see what Coach Fredrick Kashimoto has in store for us with legendary cup campaigning side.
FAZ DIVISION 1 WEEK 1.
Prison Leopards- Nkana.
Kitwe United-Police Blue Eagles.
Afrsiports- Chindwin Sentries.
Konkola Mine Police- Mufulira Blackpool.
Mufulira Wanderers- Kalewa.
INDENI- Muchundu Blue Eagles.
Chambishi FC- Lime Hotspurs.
Ndola United- Medical Stars.
Riflemen- Lusaka City Council.
Nkwazi- Lusaka Tigers.
Kanbuku Warriors- Young Buffaloes.
Chilanga Heroes- Livingstone Pirates.
Profund Warriors- Kalomo Jetters.
ZNS Green Eagles- Lusaka Celtic.
Builders Brigade- Nampundwe.