Green Eagles started their 2017 MTN FAZ Super League campaign with a 1-0 victory over weakened new comers, City of Lusaka, in the regular season’s opening match played at the National Heroes Stadium on Saturday.
The start of the match was delayed on two fronts, the first being that City of Lusaka had to make changes to their line-up which left them with 13 eligible players while the second was that the playing surface had not been marked in time.
Before the start of the match, City of Lusaka were forced to withdraw three players from their initial starting list – goalkeeper Maybin Phiri, Joseph Lungu and Clement Mundia – due to the fact that they did not hold valid registration from the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and were replaced by Joseph Phiri, Noel Phiri and Jack Musonda.
Three other players who had been listed on the substitute’s bench namely Eric Chibuye, Abel Kangwa and Saddam Yussuf Phiri were also withdrawn leaving Benjamin Makandauko as the only eligible in-field substitute before goalkeeper Gift Ngwira was added to the list.
Andrew Phiri opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when he converted a penalty which was awarded after goalkeeper Joseph Phiri brought down Greenwell Witika inside the area.
Witika could have increased the advantage a minute later but his low effort from inside the box was weak and Maybin Phiri made a comfortable save.
Witika had another good chance five minutes before the break as he lobbed his effort over Maybin Phiri but it went over the cross bar.
At the other end it was Morgan Kaoma who thought he had equalized on the stroke of half time but his close range shot was tipped over and behind by Green Eagles goalkeeper Robert Mwanza for the visitors to take a 1-0 lead at the break.
After the break, the first chance in front of goal fell to Green Eagles when Warren Kunda rose highest at the far post following a corner but his header went over and wide.
For the home side, it was Roy Sakuwanda who almost equalized on 55 minutes after weaving his way through the Eagles defence only to see his effort clip the crossbar after it was tipped over by Mwanza.
On the hour mark, Mwila Phiri almost increased advantage for the visitors when he was set up inside the box by Spencer Sautu only for the ball to be cleared off his feet by a City of Lusaka defender.
The home side took a gamble in the 76th minute as they brought in Makandauko for Kaoma as they searched for an equalizer but Green Eagles held on to collect maximum points to take early leadership the standings.