.as they take on SA giants Sundowns in CAF Champions League semi-final
ZESCO United want to prove their worth in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League when they host South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns in a semi-final first leg at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola today.
This will be the two teams’ maiden official meeting and is expected to produce sparks.
Zesco go into this match with an unbeaten record at home in this race and are determined to extend it. The Zambian league champions are currently playing their best football this season.
Sundowns are scarred veterans of the African and South African top-flight football who rise to the occasion when the chips are down. Only a moment of magic will decide the match.
Coach George Lwandamina said in a pre-match interview that Zesco did not reach the CAF Champions League semi-final by good fortune: they sweated for it, and were determined to register victory in this crucial first leg encounter at home.
“The boys are in perfect shape for Sundowns and ready to fight to the end. The game is played 90 minutes, hence no need to get too excited. We did not reach this far by luck but because we are a great team,” he said.
Zesco seem to be well rested having played their league game last Sunday against Mufulira Blackpool, winning by a 2-1 scoreline.
Zesco’s dependable strikers Jesse Were, Jackson Mwanza and Idriss Mbombo are expected to go hunting for goals in this intriguing Southern African do or die battle.
Goalkeeper Jacob Banda has maintained his form over the past few matches but hopes he will be alert when the defence loses concentration especially after a lead.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane says he is not expecting an easy match against the Zambian side.
“Hopefully we will score, that’s important. We have so much respect for Zesco and coach Lwandamina. It will not be an easy game but we will not throw away any chances,’’ he said.
Zesco squad has goal keepers Jacob Banda, Brown Nyirenda, Lameck Nyangu.
Defenders: Shemmy Mayembe, Dauti Musekwa, Ayo Oluwafemi, Lottie Bwalya, David Owino Odhiambo, Ben Adama Banh, Bernard Mapili, Emmanuel Mayuka, Kondwani Mtonga.
Midfielders: Misheck Chaila, Anthony Akumu Agay, Kasashi Lupiya, John Chngandu, Maybin Mwaba, Mwape Mwelwa, Matthews Nkowane, Clatous Chota, Mwila Phiri.
Strikers: Idris Mbombo, Lazarous Kambole, Jackson Mwanza and Jesse Were.