Drama as Forest Rangers get lifeline in Zambia Super League hunt

Nkana FC will have to wait until Sunday to find out if they have won a 13th Zambia Super League title after what was scheduled to be the final round of matches on Thursday had an unexpected twist.

Nkana players thought they had clinched the championship after their match against Nakambala Leopards did not go ahead as their already relegated opponents failed to travel to Kitwe for the fixture.

Those three points for the walkover win, coupled with a 1-0 victory for Forest Rangers over NAPSA Stars on Thursday, left Nkana top of the league after 27 rounds had been played.

But the joy was short-lived as news filtered through that Rangers had won an appeal against the award of three points to Zanaco when their fixture, scheduled for July 18, did not take place.

Rangers had the same day revealed 17 of their players tested positive for COVID-19 and the game did not go ahead, with the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) initially awarding the match as a 3-0 walkover to Zanaco.

But it will now be played on Sunday at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, where victory for Rangers would see them claim the Super League title. Nkana will hope Zanaco can at least hold Rangers to a draw, which would see the Kitwe side keep hold of top spot.

What is sure is that Nkana and Rangers will be in the top two, which means they qualify for the CAF Champions League in the 2020-21 season, while Green Eagles and NAPSA Stars enter the CAF Confederation Cup.

Defending champions Zesco United ended the campaign with a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Red Arrows and finish in fifth, out of the continental club competition places.

Red Arrows took the lead when 40-year-old striker James Chamanga netted a penalty on the hour-mark, but Kenyan Jesse Were equalised with a minute to go.

Eagles won 2-0 at home to 10-man Lusaka Dynamos as Amity Shamende and Michael Mwenya (penalty) scored in each half, while Buildcon claimed a 3-1 success at home to Green Buffaloes.

Chanda Mushili scored a brace for them, to go with a strike from David Nshimirimana.

In other results, Nkwazi and Kansanshi Dynamos played to a 1-1 draw, while Zanaco and Lumwana Radiant did likewise.

Kabwe YSA, Mufulira Wanderers and Nakambala Leopards are the three sides relegated.

The Super League season usually has 34 rounds, but this was cut to 27 for this season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Football Association of Zambia has targeted an October 17 start for the new 2020/21 campaign.