ZESCO HURDLE FOR BATTERED RANGERS

Nigeria champions, Enugu Rangers, are in for a tough time when they face Zambia side, Zesco United, in the 2nd 1/16th round first leg clash on Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

Rangers have been going through a hard time this season and remain without a win in their last three matches on the domestic front, leading to fear over their chances of progressing to the group stage of the second-tier continental club championship.

The Flying Antelopes were eliminated from the much prestigious Total CAF Champions League by Egyptian side, Zamalek, 5-3 on aggregate and their blunt attack has served their bane.

The unfamiliar recent output saw head coach, Imama Amakapabo, handed a three-match ultimatum, but the outcome was no better. The Antelopes lost the first of the three matches, 1-0 to Katsina United, drew one-all with newcomers Remo Stars, before suffering a 2-1 loss to rivals, Enyimba just last Sunday.

Despite the poor trend of results, Amakapabo tells CAFOnline.com remains upbeat his charges can rise up to the occasion against visiting Zesco United, which lifted the Zambian Charity Shield at the weekend.

“It has not been easy for the entire team for some time now but we have moved on after our last loss (against Enyimba).

“The players are in good condition except the pressure on them from every angle, but I believe we will overcome it.

“Zesco is a strong team from what I know about them and they are also doing well in their own league but hopefully we will secure victory by a good number of goals to continue staying in the competition,” said Amakapabo.

Goalkeeper Nana Bonsu also adds that lessons from their exit in the premier continental club championships has been well learnt.

“We have learnt our lessons from the Total CAF Champions League and we hope to correct it with this one opportunity left for us,” said the Ghana-born shot stopper.

“The players are ready and there is no turning back. We have do our best to prove our worth and justify the league title we won last season by beating Zesco United at home and away to qualify to the group stage.

“We need the support of our fans because I know Zesco united is coming here to pick a point but we won’t allow them. It is not a problem of the coach but we the players will play our best to stop them” Bonus told cafonline.com

The Zambians, semi-finalists in the CAF Champions League last season, reached this stage after beating Le Messager Ngozi of Burundi 4-2 on aggregate at the 1/16th round.

Meanwhile, Zesco United is expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday, 48-hours ahead of the clash with Rangers.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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