Mtonga: Zesco ready for JKU test in Zanzibar

Zesco midfielder Kondwani Mtonga has poured cold water on any form of pressure as they face JKU of Zanzibar away in the first leg of the preliminary round.

For the third straight season, the Zambia champions face an East African opponent in their opening fixture.

However, the Ndola-based club's last two first leg encounters were both at home against Al Ghazala of South Sudan in 2016 and Burundi club Le Messager Ngozi of Burundi in 2017, which they won before successfully negotiating their passage.

There is no pressure at all, the team is ready to do the job, Mtonga told in Zanzibar.

It looks like an advantage for the home side but personally we just need to work hard here and later finish the job at home.

They are not a team that we are going underrate. We just have to do our best against them.

Zesco have no injury worry or suspensions heading into what will also be their first competitive game in 2018 ahead of their domestic league title defence in April.

Back in their fold is veteran striker Winston Kalengo, who missed out on their recent successes over the last two seasons after moving to Congo-Brazzaville club AC Leopards at the end of 2014.

But Kenya international striker Jesse Were who was brought to replace him two seasons ago has ably delivered with a total of eight continental goals over the last 24 months.

Were again be the key man upfront as Zesco seek to get half the job done in Zanzibar on Saturday at the Amaan Stadium.

Furthermore, Zesco coach Tenant Chembo is also relieved to see Mtonga and three other key players return from Total African Nations Champions Morocco 2018 in good health.

A lot is expected, especially from striker Lazarus Kambole after his two goals scored on his Zambia debut in Morocco.

In addition, defender Fackson Kapumbu is set to reprise his role on the left-flank while another Simon Silwimba should start at right back.

t is good to be back home after the CHAN and find the team in shape, Mtonga said.

We just have to gel in now with our team mates and continue from where we found them in pre-season training.

Meanwhile, Zesco will host JKZ in the final leg on 21 February 2017 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

The winner will face either Ivorian giants, ASEC Mimosa or Buffles from Benin at the 1/16th round.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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