Zesco United chase a winning start to their 2017 CAF Confederation Cup
pool stage campaign on Saturday when they host Smouha of Egypt in the
two sides opening Group C match at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Zesco will be gunning for another fruitful start against an Egyptian
opponent following last years 3-2 momentous win over Al Ahly in their
opening Group A game in the 2016 CAF Champions League.
Coach Zlatko Krmpotic said he is expecting a tough match but his
charges are ready for Smouha.
“Smouha are surely favourite in our group because Egyptian football is
at a high level. The game will be tough because we played a league
home on Wednesday,” Krmpotic said.
Zesco return to action three days after they rallied from 2-0 to
snatch a stoppage time 2-2 home draw with Green Buffaloes.
“The league is different from the Confederation Cup and we have
prepared to win this game from the first minute,” Krmpotic said.
Krmpotic has no suspensions but striker Jackson Mwanza is still out
with an ankle injury.
And so he will be banking on the attacking trio of Jesse Were,John
Chingandu and Idris Mbombo will lead Zesco’s attack as the seek to end
their two match winless run in all competition.
Smouha meanwhile,arrive in Zambia with a raft of five injuries in
particular in defence where they are without defenders Omar Saad and
Mansou Kouakou from Ivory Coast.
But Smouha coach Moamen Soliman is boosted by the recovery of Mahmoud
Ezzat to ease his backline worries.
“Every big team must have it in their minds that if you want to reach
a higher levels we have to put in more effort,” Soliman said.
“We respect Zesco very much and we know they play very good football.”
Soliman however disputed the fact that their failure to win away or
score a goal on the road in the Confederation Cup would be a factor
heading into the Ndola game.
In Kenya, Smouha lost 3-0 to Ulinzi Stars but progressed 4-3 on
aggregate in the first round and drew 0-0 at Bidvest Wits to qualify
1-0 to the group stage.
“The only problem that we have in this team is the experience, we have
new young players but we have learnt something from the last two games
and I believe we will be OK as we progress.”