Round 34 of matches in the 2016 MTN FAZ Super League was characterised by both celebrations for the champions and struggles for some teams placed in the bottom half of the league standings.
Champions Zanaco were officially crowned after their 1-0 triumph over Mufulira Blackpool at Shinde Stadium on Saturday.
The victory over Blackpool took their tally to a record 78 points from 33 matches in which they scored 67 goals while conceding 16 in the process. They still have a game in hand with Nkwazi scheduled for10th December.
Their seventh league title took them to third on the all-time list, behind Nkana (12) and Mufulira Wanderers (9). No club in the Super League has won more league championships than Zanaco since 2000. Indeed, only four other clubs have won the league since 2000 - Power Dynamos (2000, 2011), Nkana (2001, 2013), Red Arrows (2004) and Zesco United (2007, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015).
Eleven different clubs have won the league since formation in 1962 - Nkana (12), Mufulira Wanderers (9), Zanaco (7), Green Buffaloes (6), Power Dynamos (6), Kabwe Warriors (5), Zesco United (5), Nchanga Rangers (2), City of Lusaka (1), Red Arrows (1) and Roan United (1). Twelve successive seasons have passed since the league was won by a new champion, Red Arrows in 2004.
Mufulira Blackpool finished the season at the bottom of the standings without registering a single victory in 34 matches in their first return to the top-flight since 1999. Their tally of 12 points was collected from twelve draws in which they scored 9 goals while conceding 52 in the process.
Lusaka Tigers and Lusaka Dynamos were also relegated. One relegation slot is all that remains to be taken by any of Nchanga Rangers, Green Eagles, Lumwana Radiants and Nakambala Leopards after Napsa Stars and Mufulira Wanderers were assured of survival.
On paper, Nakambala Leopards (15th, 35 points) who have to play back to back matches with Zesco United are odds-on candidates for relegation yet the struggle remains real for Nchanga Rangers (12th, 39 points) Green Eagles (13th, 38 points) and Lumwana Radiants (14th, 38 points).
While Nchanga Rangers have played all 34 matches, the other three relegation candidates have games in hand. However, they will survive if Nakambala lose to Zesco United on Sunday.