A Hallmark new ABSA Cup champion will be crowned this afternoon on Saturday when Forest Rangers and FC MUZA clash in their debut final appearance at Woodlands Stadium in Lusaka.
MUZA reached their first final on the second attempt following a preliminary stage exit in 2018.
Read more: Absa Cup finals: Forest Rangers, FC MUZA get new date to decide winners
Their opponents Forest have played in two editions of the competition that have ended in the last 16 and quarterfinal.
Coach, Ian Bakala, who has just returned from AFCON U17 duty in Algeria said Forest is very hungry to end their thirteen-year wait for silverware.
But Forest has a poor record against NUZA with one win and with three successive defeats from four competitive meetings and traces their last victory over the Mazabuka side to the 2019 transitional season.
“The team looks good. I have been back with the team for two days now, the morale is high in camp and I think we are expecting a good game,” Bakala said.
“We have lost twice (to MUZA this season) but that was in the league we have come up with a different strategy which is to win this cup.
“We have never reached this far but the confidence in training shows it will be a good game and hopefully it will go the way we have planned and we will carry the day.”
MUZA assistant coach Cosmas Mujika said they hope to become the first club from Southern Province to lift a major cup competition and go one better than fallen town mates and landlords Nakambala Leopards who lost the 2007 BP Top final to Kabwe Warriors.
“The expectations are so high, especially where we are coming from in Mazabuka. We want to get it, we want to win it because it has been our priority since Week One and our objective remains the same,” Mujika said.
MUZA is hoping to complete a memorable season after defying all odds to clinch a second-place finish in the 2022/2023 MTN//FAZ Super League campaign that earned them a continental slot in the 2023/2024 CAF Confederation Cup.
Meanwhile, Forest is not new to this stage after reaching three major cup finals in the Ndola club’s history since losing to Nkana in the 1991 Mosi Cup.
But the highlight came in 2025 when Forest won the defunct Coca-Cola Cup but was denied back-to-back titles the following season when the Warriors beat them in the final of the same competition.
The onus is also on Forest to also end the campaign on a high after a promising first half of the season when they made a strong case for top two continental qualifications.
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