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Zesco-based quartet find strength in unity

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 15 – For David Owino, Jesse Were, John Mark Makwatta and Ian Otieno, training in isolation has been made easier by the fact that they all live in the same flat in downtown Ndola, Zambia as they look to remain afloat with limited movements due to the coronavirus.

Press ups, dumbells and a little game of footvolley to keep the smiles intact has now become a norm for the four who are all first team players at Zambian giants Zesco United.

The Zesco United quartet basically live in the same compound, each in his own house, but the home-training programs have been basically synchronized at the apartment parking, still observing the strict social distancing rules.

“I think we should count ourselves lucky that we all live close to each other and we can train together with some bit of encouragement and a sense of competition which pushes us to do better. It is easier when you have familiar people around you as compared to training alone,” says Makwatta, who just recently joined the club from AFC Leopards.

Makwatta whose 15 goals in the Kenyan Premier League are still unsurpassed says he is a bit dejected that the virus put a halt to the Zambian league, coming just after he had started gathering momentum with three goals already to his name.

“I had worked to gel into the team and so far had done well. It is a shame that the momentum is cut short but some things are beyond our control,” states the striker.

Owino who is the oldest member of the quartet in Zambia and also Zesco’s deputy captain says they have done their best under the prevailing conditions.

“It is tough definitely not to train with the team as we are used to. But noting that we are all together, we have organized sessions together every morning to ensure we remain fit. It is easier when you have someone pushing you,” Owino noted.

Jesse whose goals have proved vital for the Ndola based side since he joined them from Tusker, also said having a small family to train with has made the already tough conditions a bit bearable.

“Training in isolation needs a lot of concentration and dedication. But having others join in and also people who come from the same background makes it easier. The unity is what drives us to keep going,” Were revealed.

His sentiments were shared by goalkeeper Ian Otieno who joined the side from fellow Zambian Premier League side Red Arrows.

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“The rules on movement are very strict and most of the time we just keep to the apartment. When you are a foreigner, you cannot dare break rules because they will even revoke your work permit. We have tried to psyche each other up and working together is enjoyable. I don’t know how we would have coped if we were apart but certainly, this is a bit easier for all of us,” the former AFC Leopards and Posta Rangers keeper explained.

The players train together as a team via video-conferencing application Zoom on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but the four ensure they have a session together every day.

Having been eliminated from the CAF Champions League, Zesco’s focus is now solely trained on retaining the league title and vying for the Absa Cup.

Before the league was halted, Zesco were placed fifth in the standings with 42 points, four behind leaders Forest Rangers and with 10 rounds of matches left.

However, they were undergoing a rough patch having failed to win their last five games.

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