Friday Apr 01, 2022. 15:50
Nkana and Napsa Stars meet this Saturday in the first semifinal of the 2022 ABSA Cup at Woodlands Stadium in Lusaka.
Both sides have not been to the final in over four years with Nkana’s last appearance coming in the 2018 final when they won their debut ABSA Cup title while 2012 winners Napsa were runners-up in 2017.
Nkana go into the semifinals seeking their only realistic opportunity for silverware this season following their faded league ambitions.
Their best shot is a top four finish and currently trail leaders Red Arrows by 12 points with six games left to play.
Napsa on the other hand are the only second tier side still standing in the 2022 ABSA Cup and are hoping to also become the first team to win it both as a FAZ Super League and National Division 1 club.
They are currently mounting a strong challenge for FAZ Super League promotion with five games to play following their demotion last season.
But Napsa coach Perry Mutapa said they respect Nkana’s pedigree as Zambia’s most successful club but are going to give it their best shot this weekend at Woodlands.
“I think the 12th man would do a lot of good for them (Nkana) and they are in the top four bracket with a chance of representing Zambia in CAF games next season,” Mutapa said.
“So it is a team that is doing well. So for us, our main focus is obviously to come back to the Premier League.
“But since it is a Cup game, the tables can be turned so we are expecting it to be an exciting match.”
Nkana assistant coach George Chilufya believes it is their destiny to reach the final and win only their second-ever ABSA Cup title.
“From the day we qualified for the ABSA Cup, we started planning for it and we were prepared for any opponent and at this stage we are meeting Napsa,” Chilufya said.
“We have already set our sights on the next phase of the tournament, there will be an obstacle but we wait to see how the boys apply themselves against a very good side with great football brains but we are ready for them.”
Meanwhile, Nkana striker Alex Ngonga will face Mutapa for the first time since their frosty relationship as player and coach at Power Dynamos that saw the former out of favour.
A frustrated Ngonga left in April 2021 to join Power’s archfoes Nkana and a month later Mutapa was fired after losing 2-0 in a Kitwe derby in which his former striker scored the final goal against his ex-club.
Winner between Nkana and Napsa will in the April 16 final at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka face Red Arrows or Green Eagles who meet in their penultimate stage fixture 24 hours later at Woodlands.