The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has announced that the 2017 league season kicks off with the semifinals of the Samuel Zoom Charity Shield, taking place in Kitwe on Wednesday, March 29.

The Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu Charity Shield marks the official start of the Zambian Football League regular season and features the top three placed teams from the previous season along with the previous season’s winner of the Barclays Cup.

The qualified teams for the 2017 Charity Shield are Zanaco (League Champions), Zesco United (Barclays Cup Winners), Nkana and holders Power Dynamos.

According to a communique from FAZ to the four qualified teams, accessed by on Thursday, Power Dynamos qualified despite being the fourth-placed team on the league standings because Zesco United who finished in second position also won the Barclays Cup.

The communique, signed by FAZ Head of Administration and Competitions Julio Chiluba, read: ”As you all know the Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu Charity Competition marks the opening of each football season. The competition teams are the top three on the previous season’s Super Division league table and the winner of the previous year’s Barclays Cup Competition.

“Since Zesco United FC also won the Barclays Cup, the fourth placed club on the 2016 Super Division league table, Power Dynamos Football Club, qualified for the 2017 Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu Charity Shield.

“The semifinals will be played in Kitwe on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 as a double-header. The Charity Shield final will be played in Lusaka on Saturday, 1 April 2017.

“As usual the top of the 2016 Super Division table will play the third-placed team. And the the second-placed team will play the fourth-placed team.”

The first semifinal will be between Zesco United and Power Dynamos at 1pm while Zanaco and Nkana will face each other at 3.15pm.

Match venues for the semifinals and the final will be announced at a later date.

Proceeds of the Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu Charity Shield are donated by the Republican President to a charity of his choice on behalf of the Zambian football family under the umbrella of the Football Association of Zambia.