Until now I preferred to present the best leagues in Europe which, are probably also the best in the world. But now, I chose to share a bit of Zambias’ first division as a tribute for the last national team that won, until now, a major world title: the African Nations Cup, in 2012. So, without further comments, you can see above the situation of half a century of football league in Zambia. The competition was founded in 1962 and 11 teams won the big prize. So, enjoy a table and a few words about each team that achieved to be crowned as champions:
Roan United is the first champion, but the team didn’t win a single title until 1962. Still, the squad from Luanshya, a town which has about 117 thousand inhabitants from the north part of the country, brought home four national cups: in 1962, 1977, 1994 and the last one in 1996.
Mufulira Wanderers won their first after exactly a decade from their birth date, in 1953. Established in the same part of the country, the second ever champion, the team was founded in a town with 125 thousand people. The difference between them and Roan is that after the championship won in 1963, Wanderers achieved another eight so far and also ten Cups (1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1988 and 1995). Unfortunately for their fans, the club struggles now in the second tier.
Formed back in 1937, FC City of Lusaka is the oldest club in the capital city and the third champion of Zambia. After, even though they are still playing in the top flight, they didn’t win another trophy.
Kabwe is a town located in the central part of Zambia and has more than 200 thousand people. Also, the team from here, Warriors , gathered an impressive number of 10 titles, 5 each championships and Cups. Despite all this, the last two were achieved back in 1987. So, 15 seasons without any major title, but with a few Challenge Cups and one Coca Cola Cup, in 2006.
Zambia Army, now called Green Buffaloes FC, is another club from the capital of Lusaka, which plays its matches on the Independence Stadium that can hold an impressive number of at least 30.000 people. Under the initial name they won two league titles (1973 and 1974) and since their called the Green Buffalos, achieved two more such distinction, but the sad part is that the last one was obtain more than three decades ago, in 1981. The only consolation for the fans in the Zambian Cup brought by their favourites at home in 2005. That is their only from their history.
Nchanga Rangers is a squad formed in 1960 in Chingola, a city with nearly 160 thousand inhabitants. They don’t have a great history, because their most trophies consist of some Zambian Challenge Cups, an Independence Cup and Two Charity Shields. Still, Rangers won two national titles: The first in 1980 and the second, and last, more recently, in 1998.
Nkana FC is the most successful team from the history of Zambia, as they won so far no less than 11 league titles. Contrary as you may expect the team to have its origins in Lusaka, the city capital, Nkana Red Devils represents Kitwe, a big town with a population of almost 550.000 people and they are also the oldest football club in Zambia, being founded in 1935 under the name of Rhokana United. Despite being the most successful in the history of the country, Nkana didn’t win a major distinction for 11 years now. They effectively dominated Zambian football for two decades, between 1982 and 2001, period in which they won 11 league titles, 6 national Cups and played an African Champions League final, in 1990. In fact they are the only team from this country to reach this continental performance. Unfortunately, they lost at penalties against the Algerians from JS Kabylie.
Another team from Kitwe is Power Dynamos, which was born in 1971 and obtained quickly the nickname of ‘a baby born with teeth’, because of their force on the home front, where few can make problems. In fact, most of their distinctions came thanks to the home results. So, Dynamos won six championships, with the first in 1984 and the last in 2011, which makes them one of the most powerful Zambian squads from this period. And to not forget, last say that Power Dynamos also succeed seven times in the Zambian Cup.
Zanaco also represents Lusaka and is one of the major Zambian squads from the last decade, as they won five league titles in the last ten years (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009). Their performance is quite extraordinary if we consider that Zanaco was founded in 1985. Since then, they also triumph once in the national Cup, in 2002.
A quite new and surprisingly squad is Red Arrows, also from Lusaka, which won only two distinctions, but because both came in recent years (the title in 2004 and the Cup in 2007), when can say without any doubt that this lads form one of the most dangerous sides from modern Zambian football. And these words are well sustained by the fact that Red Arrows was the vice-champion of the country in 2011.
Three from the last five Zambian leagues were won by ZESCO United, a team from Ndola (775 thousand inhabitants), which was established in 1974. They also won a Cup in 2006, but despite being one of the richest clubs in the country, they don’t have such a big number of supporters like Nkana or Muflira Wanderers.
So, this was the short stories of all eleven Zambian league winners so far. It all started exactly a half a decade ago, in 1962, but during years many things chanced, as traditional squads like Muflira or Nkana struggle right now, meanwhile ZESCO or Zanaco live their moments of glory, thanks to their sponsors which make them the wealthier football teams from the country.