Saturday Sep 18, 2021. 20:00
Zesco United made a preliminary stage exit from continental football for the first time in their history on Saturday when Royal Leopards of Eswatini knocked them out of the 2021/2022 CAF Champions League.
The Ndola giants beat Royal Leopards 2-1 at home at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola but it was not enough.
Zesco exit on away goals rule following a 1-0 away loss on September 11 in Manzini to finish 2-2 aggregate.
Zambia’s most successful continental group stage campaigners make a stunning exit after failing to live up to their decorated continental record of five league phase appearances that include one CAF Champions League semifinal and a CAF Confederation Cup quarterfinal placing.
It was a laboured display by Zesco who eventually took the lead in the 29th minute through a Tafadzwa Rusike bicycle kick on the rebound after Leopards goalkeeper Ncamiso Dlamini parried the ball into his path.
But Zesco’s lead lasted just eight minutes when Andy Magagula fired in the ball from the edge of the box to give Leopards a deserved equalizer after some sustained pressure on Zesco.
Veteran striker Winston Kalengo then restored Zesco’s lead in the 48th minute to give the home side some breathing space.
However, Zesco failed to put the game to bed in the 61st minute when Jesse Were’s penalty was parried by Ncamiso.
Ncamiso then pulled off a dramatic last minute save when he parried Zesco prospect striker Enock Sakala’s header and seconds later Angolan referee Joao Amado Goma blew for the end of the game.
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