….. As they urge the team to grab the continental trophy
By Bennie Mundando
DO NOT just play for pride but go for the trophy because you have already proved you are a force to reckon with in continental football, the Zambia Sports Fans’ Association (ZASPOFA) has urged Zesco United.
Two trademark goals from John “the Baptist” Ching’andu and a third from lanky Kenyan striker Jesse Were sealed a sweet victory for Zesco United to see off Nigeria’s Enugu Rangers 5-2 on aggregate and romp into the Confederations Cup group stage.
Zesco played as a complete team in all departments with its free-flowing football as they dominated the opponents throughout the game to finish off the job they started in Nigeria when they came from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw.
Speaking after the game, ZASPOFA patron Peter Makembo told the Daily Nation Sports that Zesco had done what fans expected but warned that the tournament was not yet over as fans expected nothing but the trophy to come to Zambia because the team had what it took to win.
Makembo said Zesco had distinguished itself among the continent’s finest teams due to a good management whose desire is to improve the squad every year by keeping its performing squad members and adding quality players to the team to consolidate its strength.
He described the qualification as “sweet” and urged the players to soldier on, saying there could be no better atonement for last year’s failure to land the CAF Champions League trophy than to lift the Confederations Cup this year.
“They (Zesco) missed the CAF Champions’ League by a whisker last year but cemented their status as one of the best teams on the continent and this has been further proven by their consequent qualification to the group stage of this tournament and we expect nothing less than the trophy. They showed character in the first round in Nigeria and they have done it again here and this is what fans wanted to see.
“At this stage, Zesco is not playing for pride or prestige. They have passed that stage a long time ago. Right now, this team is playing for honours and it will be sweet if they lift the trophy because they are capable. The competition will not be easy because a lot of African teams are wary of Zesco but I know they can still do it. They are a strong team,” Makembo said.
Meanwhile, Makembo has urged Zanaco to put its house in order if the team is to go far in the CAF Champions’ League.
He said while Zanaco had done a lot so far to remain in contention for the coveted prize, the team was still rusty, hence the need to put in more effort to turn its fortunes around as the CAF Champions League was more competitive.
Zanaco has had a stuttering performance on the local scene, having been humiliated and bundled out of the tournament by not-so inspiring Nkana who beat them 3-0 in the elite league curtain-raiser, the Charity Shield, in the semi-final.
Their quest to retain the league title has also been put under check after they suffered early setbacks, having drawn in the opener 1-all against Red Arrows before losing 2-1 at Green Eagles on Saturday, to collect only a point out of a possible six.