The 2019 footballing season is about to kick off and here is all you need to know about the 2019 MTN/FAZ Transitional League
•What is the transitional league?
The Confederation Of African Football (CAF) have decided to conform their usual February-November calendar year to the August-May calendar.
The Football Association Of Zambia (FAZ) sat down to find a structure that will fast forward the 2019 ‘transitional’ season that should be concluded in time to start the new 2019-20 season in August in line with CAF’s directive.
The association has since separated the 20 Super League teams in to two groups with one zone pitting teams that finished in odd Numbered positions in the 2018 season with the other consisting of teams in even numbered positions.
After 19 rounds of matches in both groups the two table toppers who will represent the nation in the CAF Champions League will face off to decide the winner while the runners up from the groups will compete in the Confederation Cup.
The bottom two from both groups will be relegated while the top four teams from the National League will battle it out in promotion playoffs to decide the two that will take their places in the 2019-20 Super League that will now an 18 team league.
•When is the ‘transitional’ league starting?
The league is scheduled to kick start on Sunday,January 27 just a day after the annual season opener Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu Charity Shield match between ZESCO United and Nkana.
The fixtures are yet to be released by FAZ.
There are four new teams that have been promoted from the zones.
Circuit City from Lusaka,Manchester United Zambia Academy (MUZA) who hail from Mongu, legendary cup winners Mufulira Wanderers and Prison Leopards from Kabwe.
-Odd Numbers Zone
-Even Numbers Zone
Manchester United Zambia Academy (MUZA)
ZESCO United are the current champions after winning second title in a row in 2018 and are big favourites again to top their zone where they will face competition from Green Buffaloes who finished third in 2018,big spenders Lusaka Dynamos as well as Zanaco who are expected to bring out a better performance after an underwhelming fifth place finish last time out.
Nkana were last season considered the best team in the league despite them not winning the league where they remained unbeaten in the second half of the season and got consolation by winning the Barclays Cup.
They have extended their good form into continental competition where they are close to making the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.
They will be confident of topping their zone but will have to face competition from neighbouring rivals Power Dynamos,Ndola moneybags Buildcon,a s well as 2018 coach of the year Aggrey Chiyangi’s revitalized Green Eagles.
Jesse Jackson Were has been ZESCO United’s top scorer since his arrival from Tusker in 2016 scoring over 50 goals and has been in form again in CAF competition alongside striking partner Lazarus Kambole.
The two forwards are expected to lit up their zone along with Chris Mugalu from Lusaka Dynamos,Zanaco’s Charles Zulu,Maisha Chavda and Ernest Mbewe.
Idris Mbombo who was the top scorer and player of the year last season left Kitwe giants Nkana for Sudanese side Al Hilal Omdurman and Nkana will be banking on Ronald “Sate Sate” Kampamba as well as captain Walter Bwalya.
Other ‘star’ names in the league include Power Dynamos duo Alex “Bazo” Ng’onga and Larry Bwalya,Buildcon’s Clifton Miheso,and Green Eagles’ Spencer Sautu.
Telecommunications giant MTN and FAZ unveiled a US$4 million sponsorship deal last year that will run until the 2020-21 season.
•Which channels will televise the league?
Supersport and FAZ have US$5 million sponsorship deal and the South African sports broadcasting giant will yet again bring the passionate “Bola Yapa Zed” fans’ favourite teams live on their screens.