FAZ SUPER DIVISION 2013 TEAM PROFILE By ROBINSON KUNDA
Green Buffaloes is one of Zambia’s top teams but in recent years it has gone without any silverware to prove that it is indeed so. It has lost its `untouchable’ tag but this season the Army-sponsored side has been ordered to restore its superiority.
“We are a big team and we have spent so many years playing very good football but still we have failed to win the league title, this year nothing will stop us from winning it,” these are the words of Green Buffaloes Football Club chairman Colonel Albert Musenga.
Green Buffaloes ranks among the biggest teams in Zambia’s Super Division league but like Musenga says, the team has gone decades without winning the league title having last won it in 1981.
Buffaloes have finished as runners-up on several occasions but this year they have set their eyes on lifting the Super Division title.
The ‘soldiers’ however, are aware that wrestling the title from holders Zanaco will not be an easy task and it’s high time they put their motto of ‘GBFC go boys fight and conquer’ into motion if they are to realise their dream.
Formed in 1965 as Zambia Army, Buffaloes has bagged the Super Division title six times – in1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1981.
Since then, Buffaloes have struggled to stamp their authority on Zambian football and their best finish since then has just been second position, a situation that Musenga says will not be tolerated this season.
In their heyday, the soldiers also won the Shell Challenge Cup in 1979 and 1997.They also lifted the BP Top Eight Cup in 1985.
But in recent years the team’s performance has continued to dip such that even a second finish has dodged the Zambia Army-sponsored outfit.
Buffaloes, like other Zambia Army-sponsored teams, was established as a social club meant to help keep the soldiers physically fit.
It was also meant to ensure the country’ peacekeepers stayed healthy and alert as sport is known for promoting alertness.
But with the abundant talent that the soldiers possess, the team has managed to transform itself into a big side and today it is one of the top four in the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Super Division league.
It has consistently been finishing in the top four brackets on the Super Division table until last year when they nosedived and finished in a distant seventh position.
Buffaloes has also produced a number of players that have gone on to play for the Zambia national team. The most notable recent inclusion is BBC 2012 Player-of-the -year Christopher Katongo who is also Chipolopolo skipper.
Other national team players that have come from Buffaloes in recent years include midfielder Nathan Sinkala who is now with Democratic Republic of Congo giants TP Mazembe, late goalkeeper Collins Mbulo, midfielder Felix Katongo, defender Dennis Banda and another midfielder Noel Mwandila.
When Buffaloes was at its best in the 1970s and 1980s it often contributed almost half of the national team players. These included Joseph Chomba, Milton Muke, Kapela Katumba, Jack Simbule, Robert Lutoba, Emmie Musonda, Jones Chilengi, Jani Simulambo, Willie Chibwika and Obby Kapita.
Despite producing so many top notch players and being ranked among the top teams in Zambia, the team is not among the most decorated in the country and they have failed to put any trophy in the cabinet in recent years.
The only silverware the team can brag about is the Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndlhovu Charity Shield that they won in 2010 after edging Zesco United 1-0 at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium under then coach Aggrey Chiyangi.
It was the second time the team was winning this title having scooped it in 2008 for the first time.
The soldiers also lifted the defunct Mosi Cup under George ‘Chicken’ Lwandamina after beating fellow military side Red Arrows 2-1.
They came close to taking the prestigious Barclays Cup title to Arakan Barracks in 2009, when they reached the finals of the competition but the trophy slipped through their fingers as Kitwe giants Power Dynamos emerged victorious with a 2-1 scoreline.
The team’s low point was in 1983 when the team was demoted to division one just two years after winning the Super Division title.
Buffaloes remained in Division One close to 10 years and they will always remain indebted to late George Chikokola for reviving the team and bringing it back to top flight soccer in 1999 and since then, the soldiers have never been demoted again.
The team finished second in 2003 and won the right to represent the country in the CAF Cup where they managed to reach the quarterfinals.
The soldiers were eliminated by Club African of Tunisia via a 6-2 aggregate score-line.
The following year, CAF renamed the CAF Cup as the Confederations Cup and Buffaloes again represented Zambia having finished second in the league.
This time the team was eliminated in the pre-quarter finals by Cameroonian side Coton Sport FC who handed them a 8-6 defeat on goal aggregate.
In 2005, the team again won the right to represent the country in the Confederation Cup for the third time but again they did not go far as they were booted out by APR of Rwanda 3-2 on aggregate.
In 2007, the team finished third and consequently missed out on the Confederation Cup but they bounced back in 2007.
Again, their search for the Confederation Cup trophy ended in the early stages after they were eliminated by Ishmaili of Egypt in the second round.
Buffaloes’ most recent CAF Confederations Cup campaign was in 2008 when the soldiers were eliminated by Zimbabwe’s Highlanders 2-1 on aggregate.
In 2013, Buffaloes aims to do what they have failed to achieve since 1981- winning the league and to underline their commitment to realizing this dream.
The team has recruited one of the country’s most experienced trainer, Patrick Phiri.
“From the time the team started training under Phiri, I have noticed a lot of change,” says Musenga. “Players are more aggressive than ever and surely I see no reason why we cannot win the league title.”
He says Phiri has instilled courage and aggressiveness in the players and they are able to score goals that could propel the team to winning the league in 2013.
“In the past we could play very well but scoring was a big problem. Football is about scoring goals. Even if you play well but you can’t score, then you can’t go anywhere,” he said.
Musenga said the four club international tournament that the team won recently in Mozambique has motivated the players.
He says Buffaloes is under Army Commander Paul Mihova’s orders to win the league this season. Failing to take the trophy to Arakan Barracks at the close of this season will be unacceptable.
Musenga said the team has recruited a number of strikers including Paul Chibambo.
Musenga says the KR200,000 kit sponsorship that the team has clinched from Bank ABC will be another morale booster.
Coach Phiri who has won the title several times with Nkana, says nothing will stop Buffaloes from winning the league.
“We want to get back to the old glory days and be the team to reckon with,” Phiri said. “I hope my coming here will inspire the team to win.”
Team name: Green Buffaloes.
Team colours: Green and white
Home ground: Independence Stadium
Chairman: Albert Musenga
Coach: Patrick Phiri
Key players: Dennis Banda, Noel Mwandila, Allan Mukuka, Sidney Lombe, Kennedy Chola, Davy Kaumbwa Reuben Tembo.
Most popular player produced: Christopher Katongo
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