Five Zanaco players were withdrawn at the last minute from Wednesdays away date against Nkana after testing positive for Covid-19 in a match the visitors subsequently lost 3-0 at Nkana Stadium in Kitwe.
Everything was going according to plan with lineups and tactics decided until 15 minutes before kickoff when Zanaco coach Chris Kaunda hurriedly made adjustments to his team after receiving the results.
It couldn’t have been worse for Zanaco who just five days earlier saw their restart match away to league leaders Forest Rangers cancelled after their hosts reportedly had 28 positive Covid-19 cases just hours before the Ndola match on July 18.
“It is like sleeping and you are told the house is getting burnt and you scamper in all directions and that is what happened to us,” is how Kaunda summarized Wednesday’s episode.
And it was advantage Nkana in the first half led by midfielder Kelvin Mubanga but Zanaco held on to go 0-0 into halftime.
Nkana then fired their first salvo in the 47th minute when Crispin Mulenga put them ahead.
Mubanga added goal number two four minutes later but later Zanaco showed some teeth after the hour mark when Moses Phiri and Seth Sakala added some life to their firepower after replacing Lawrence Chungu and Romaric Pitroipa.
Zanaco midfielder William Njobvu hit the post in the 65th minute and Rodgers Kola fired wide ten minutes later.
But Nkana regrouped in the last quarter when Ronald Kampamba headed wide in the 78th minute.
Idris Mbombo, who had a quiet afternoon, put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute after outsprinting Timothy Sakala and Zanaco goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata to score the final goal.
The result sees Nkana take top-spot on goal difference with 46 points, relegating Forest to second position.
Meanwhile, Zanaco stay put at number 10 on 38 points from 22 matches with three matches in hand that they are wrapping-up before August
Zanaco know they must not lose points in those outstanding fixtures for them to stay into contention for a top four finish with nine fixtures left for the rest of the field who resume the campaign starting August 1.