Tuesday Sep 21, 2021. 11:00
Midfielder Kelvin Kapumbu says Zanaco are relishing the challenge of facing Sudanese giants Al Merreikh in the CAF Champions League pre-group stage.
Al Merreikh booked their final knockout round meeting against Zanaco following a 1-0 home win over Express of Uganda on Sunday evening that saw them overturn a 2-1 away first leg loss they sustained on September 10 to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Zanaco advanced to the next stage following a 3-0 aggregate victory over Akonangui of Equatorial Guinea whom they beat 1-0 on the same date in Lusaka.
Sudanese and Zambian clubs have recently met in continental group stage action but the Khartoum teams have enjoyed an upper hand in preliminary knockout stage encounters.
“We don’t have any problem with whoever the opponent is and we will just have to be united and work together as a team and focus on qualifying to the group stage,” Kapumbu said.
“I also don’t think history here will be a factor. We shouldn’t look at the past saying club’s from Sudan always give us problems in continental games because times change. ”
Al Merreikh’s Khartoum archrivals Al Hilal knocked out Zesco United from the second round of the 2008 CAF Champions League winning 2-0 at home and drawing 1-1 in Ndola.
But Green Buffaloes had better luck against El Merreikh in the second round of the 2004 CAF Confederation Cup when they overturned a 1-0 away loss in Khartoum to win 2-0 in Lusaka.
Power Dynamos weren’t that fortunate and were ejected from the first round of the 2001 CAF Champions League by El Merreikh who completed a double in that tie winning 2-0 in Khartoum and 2-1 away in Kitwe.
Zanaco will be away in the first leg during the weekend of October 16 and host Al Merreikh in the last leg on October 23.
“I think it would be an advantage playing them away first because it eases the pressure on us,” the Chipolopolo midfielder said.
“I cannot also say that playing them in Khartoum first is a big or small task. We will just respect them but not fear them.”