NKANA visit a resurgent Power Dynamos this afternoon at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe in the first installment of this season’s Kitwe derby during Week 14 of the 2019/20 MTN/FAZ Super Division season.
Nkana face Power in good form and unbeaten in their last eight matches that they crowned last Saturday with a 1-0 home victory over leaders and defending champions Zesco United.
That triumph cut Zesco’s lead from seven to four points ahead of fourth placed Nkana who have 24 points after handing the former their first league loss of the campaign.
But coach Manfred Chabinga has warned his players not to take an early Christmas holiday today at Arthur Davies.
“We have been preaching this to the players that we won’t underestimate any team; we have to respect them. Yes, Zesco was a crucial game, but we prepared for that one like we are preparing for Power Dynamos,” Chabinga said.
“It is a very important game and we will treat that game like all the other games before this one. The players are ready and they know we are playing Power Dynamos. It is not going to be easy but we are just hoping to collect maximum points. You know, when Power Dynamos are playing Nkana, expectations are always very high.”
Last season, Nkana and Power each won by the same 2-0 margins in their respective away derby clashes.
But Nkana go to Power with one injury setback – that of defender Liason Thole.
“To every position, we have a replacement and Thole will be replaced by Collins Mulenga. We will talk to him because he has never played a local derby, so we have to encourage him,” Chabinga said.
With that said, striker Idris Mbombo, who has nine goals, one behind top scorer Jesse Were, will lead Nkana’s attack and will be eyeing his second successive goal in a big showdown after his stunning free-kick last weekend dispatched Zesco to moral-sapping defeat.
Meanwhile, Power head into the Kitwe derby with an air of great timing and fortune.
Power are eighth on 17 points and unbeaten in their last four games for the first time this season that started with a draw and three straight victories.
This is after coming back from the dead where they were second from bottom late October when they just had four points from six games with a win, a draw and four defeats.
The match will also see new Power coach Perry Mutapa dive straight into the derby, his third game in charge.
Mutapa at Forest then beat Nkana 1- 0 on September 29 in Ndola in what was also the record 12-time champions last league defeat to date.
He is also unbeaten against Nkana in his last three competitive games this year from the 2019 transitional season with two wins and a draw.
“It is football, yes, at Forest we beat Nkana but this is a different Nkana. This season we beat them after they came from a home loss against Mufulira Wanderers,” Mutapa said.
“But after we (Forest) beat them, they are having now gone eight games without a loss so I think it is the in-form team, so it will be a different ball game. But we can’t rule ourselves our because we are playing at home and we are also coming from a win.”
Nonetheless, Arthur Davies has been Nkana’s hunting ground, winning four, drawing three and losing three since they bounced back in 2010.
Power trace their last league derby home win to September 2016 when they won 1 – 0.
Since then, Power have lost two and drawn one home derby match.
Should Mutapa break that drought, the timing with Christmas just three days away could just spark parte-after-parte.
Whichever way one looks at it, this is the most colourful football spectacle which has already divided the city of Kitwe in two colours – yellow and Red.
Who wins the bragging rights this afternoon is everyone’s question in Kitwe.