The culling season has begun in the Faz Premier League with three top-flight coaches getting the boot over the last seven days as the half-way point of the 2007 campaign rapidly approaches midway point.
All three clubs are struggling at the other end of the table with the biggest casualty so far being at bottom of the table Zamtel FC coach Peter Kaumba who was fired this past Monday.
Others to be shown the door over the last week are Chris “Gazza” Tembo of 11th placed Nakambala Leopards and Alfred Lupiya of 4th from bottom National Assembly FC.
Firstly, Kaumba was an unpopular choice at Zamtel despite enjoying the full backing of the clubs’ chairman Kabaso Kapambwe.
Kaumba’s crime was his stoic nature, plus daily commute to and from his Kitwe home to Ndola where the club is based is something that irked Zamtel’s maverick executive.
Moreover, his attempt to vacuum-clean and jet-hose club of its’ the journeymen players who had helped guide to their top-flight debut was altogether was too much for them to bare.
One win, three draws plus seven defeats that culminated in a 3-0 hiding at the hands of local rivals and current league leaders Zesco United was enough for them to push Kaumba rather than let him jump.
In essence, Zamtel lack the quality to stay up anyway.
It is just hoped they didn’t base their judgment of their prowess on the number of top-flight teams they managed to beat or hold in pre-season friendly matches over the years as a measure of how far they had gone.
A lot has been said about Kaumba’s coaching ability but one should remember is that he helped buoy Kitwe United for three seasons in the top 8 and guided them to a BP Top 8 triumph but in the latter years the money wasn’t just there at Garden Park to motivate the players.
His Under 23 record too speaks volumes with a 4th place finish at the 2003 All Africa Games a major talking point and he helped groom a team that has gone on to give us five current Zambia internationals.
Nakambala meanwhile appointed Kasi Kalande to replace Tembo who guided them to the top-flight in 2006 before coming under-pressure in the early stages of that season to quit.
Some external sympathy and pressure from the media let Tembo off the hook as Nakambala went on to finish 7th and see the “Sweet Boys” qualify for their first ever BP Top 8 outing this year.
This year however, they were having none of that, 6-1 away and 4-1 home losses in week 1 and 2 to Zanaco and City of Lusaka respectively including a 1-0 loss against visiting Konkola Blades was a wee bit too much to swallow, “Gazza” left via the sidelined coach door.
Assembly meanwhile arrived for the first time in the top-flight in 2003 and they have already seen half a dozen coaches come and go; Lupiya was just part of the linty in the Parliamentarians dream of staying up.
The Lusaka side knows the agony of struggling for promotion after spending all nine of their life in the lower leagues since formation in 1994.
Very few teams ever make it to the top-flight in such a brief period and to play amongst the big boys is like nirvana for Assembly.
Who’s next on the block?
Power Dynamos’ Lawrence Mweemba is favorite for the chop; ex-Nchanga Rangers coach Fodson Kabole made a rare visit to Arthur Davies to watch Power against Zanaco on Wednesday from the VIP section sitting not very far from the hosts’ sides’ bosses.
Zanaco’s Fighton Simukonda maybe too is not far behind.
One club however that is not bucking the tread so far is Roan United under Dickson Makwaza and Paul Mulenga.
The club has learnt its lesson this time thinking not to pull another one after earlier firing Makwaza in 2003 when he led them to promotion that was inspired by the goals of one Collins Mbseuma.
Roan are enjoying a modest run so far and are in 12th place after starting from last in March.
And so far over the last seven years, only one coach clocked more than three years at the helm of a club he has guided to promotion.
That distinct honor belongs to former Chambishi FC and Zambia international midfielder Emmanuel Siwale whom his club tolerated him on the bench for three years.
Siwale led Chambishi to the top division at the end of the 2002 until he was fired in 2005.
In those three troubled seasons, Siwale oversaw the 2002 Coca Cola Cup champions survive by an average of 3-point margins for two campaigns in charge before being relegated in 2006.