Enugu Rangers vs Zesco United Preview
Zesco’s latest hurdle in cementing their status on the African continent comes in the form Enugu Rangers, the Nigerian side will battle the Zambian side for a berth in the group stage of Africa’s second tier club competition, the confederation cup.
Both teams are going through different patches of form; Zesco are just getting in the groove and are already looking to hit the heights of last season(!), Enugu Rangers on the other hand have had an indifferent start to the Nigeria professional league and seat bottom of a 20 team Nigerian professional league.
The game will come as a huge test to both teams: Zesco will try to prove to the Zambians and Africa at large that their good start to life under Zlatko Krmpotic is no fluke…Rangers on the other side will try to rekindle the form of 2016 and try and atone for the elimination from the champions league and their sluggish form in the league which has seen them plunge to the bottom of the local league table.
After what turned out to be a small matter of Le Messanger, Zesco United’s biggest test came in the name of Power Dynamos and Nkana; in both games the Ndola side looked more than fairly comfortable from the word go, negating their opponent with a steel midfield of Akumu Agay and M’tonga Kondwani which saw them clinch their first silverware under Krmpotic.
The game against Rangers will be the one where Krmpotic will try to test his squad’s readiness to pass the test in Africa. No disrespect to Le Messenger, but Rangers will be a much tougher opponent than the Burundian side and its games like this where Zesco will have the right barometer to guage how the squad has blended under the Serbian guidance.
INJURIES: Misheck Chaila, Jackson Mwanza and suspended Idriss Mbombo will all miss the match.
Though this misses do look big on paper, Zesco have beefed their squad over window and you’d feel the players at hand can do the job and suffice the shortfalls that come with missing your big names. And the game on sunday will be the right mirror whether their depth is as rigid as widely thought.
The Nigerian side have had a stuttering start to the season, they’ve failed to live up to the heights of last season in which they managed to finish as champions and qualify for Africa’s prestigious club competition, champions league.
Their season has grown from average to worst, after losing to Zamalek in the champions league and demoted to the second tier, they’ve not managed to win each of their last three games, drawing two and losing the other.
Star striker Bobby Clement, has issued a rallying cry for his team mates to forget the shambles of the season so far and use the match against Zesco United as a turning corner in their flattering season. The striker has been the talisman in a team which has faltered overall; he’s scored 5 goals in all competition and if they’ll need a lifeline it’ll be through him.
INJURIES: The Enugu based side have no injuries but you would expect a lot of tinkering from the technical bench.
After the expiry of the three match ultimatum without change of fortunes, this is a game where Imama and his co will try save their jobs, or at least, prolong the inevitable.
In as much Zesco is in good form and their opponent seem to be in limbo, this is the more reason the game will be a cagey one. Zesco will try to keep their winning momentum and Rangers will try to protrude from the dark cloud hovering their season thus far.
Zesco is the club on the up and you’d expect them to take control of the game but not with some resistance from the Nigerians; they’ll definitely be goals in this one, and I see both teams cancelling each other in a scoring draw and Zesco overall progressing to the group stage.
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