MUFULIRA Wanderers may make a quick return to the MTN/FAZ Super League following their relegation after sponsors Mopani Copper Mines assured the team of maintaining premiership sponsorship. Wanderers, a legendary cup fighter with nine league titles to their name and the team with most cup competitions in history, were last week relegated back to Division One after losing the last two games in the Super League season to Nkana and Zesco United respectively.
Wanderers won promotion back in the top-flight two years ago, having spent nine years languishing in the lower ranks under Manfred Chabinga and went on to finish fifth on the table the following year. But poor club management by officials forced Chabinga, now assistant Nkana coach, to resign.
Several key players left the club, among them Jacob Ngulube who trekked to Nkana, Mike Katiba to Green Buffaloes and captain Taonga Bwembya to Zanaco, further disadvantaging the team’s fortunes.
In the 2017 season alone, Wanderers changed coaches three times. First management hired little-known Egyptian Mohammed Suliman but the FAZ technical directorate rejected him on grounds that he was under-qualified to coach in the MTN/FAZ Super League.
Then the Portuguese Paulo Silva from Zimbabwe was engaged but he ended up getting more touchline dismissals than results and he was eventually fired.
Team manager Kashimoto acted briefly before Wilson Mwale was brought in to try and salvage the team but he failed and was also fired and his assistant Justin Chinama took over the remaining few games and even though results improved, it was a case of too little, too late as the team was relegated.
The club executive was also reconstituted in a bid to stabilise management at Shinde. The once ‘Mighty’ Mufulira Wanderers will be competing in the FAZ Division One Zone Two against the likes of Indeni, Kalulushi, Chambishi, Kansanshi Dynamos, Ndola united and Roan United, arguably the toughest zone in the country.
However, Wanderers may not struggle like most of the Division One teams as sponsors Mopani Copper Mines say the club will be given even more sponsorship in order to make a quick return to the topflight in 2019 and challenge for the title the following season.
“We will ensure Wanderers return to the Premier League just after one season in Division One. By this we mean the sponsorship that we were giving them in the Super Division will not change. We will maintain the sponsorship; keep the best players with same conditions. We will not abandon the team,” said MCM acting chief executive officer Chris Vermeulen in an interview.
“Wanderers will come back to the premier league in 2019, mark my words, Mopani will make sure of that, and they will come back fighting for the titles,” former CEO Danny Callow added.
Vermeulen also announced that Shinde Stadium would soon undergo extensive renovations to turn it into a business environment that generates resources for the club.