Zambia’s ZESCO United hold a precious lead in the African Champions League semi-final but South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns will still have a good chance to advance when both sides clash in the return leg in Pretoria on Saturday.
Semi-finals debutants ZESCO lead Sundowns 2-1 after seeing a good first-leg performance spoilt by conceding a late goal.
Jackson Mwanza scored twice within three minutes to give ZESCO a two-goal lead in Ndola that was halved by Zimbabwean Khama Billiat with only three minutes left.
The result leaves only the second Champions League semi-final between two Southern Africa clubs delicately balanced with away goals or a penalty shootout possibly deciding the tie.
Tradition favours Sundowns as only two of 10 previous clubs that won the first leg of a semi-final 2-1 went on to qualify for the final.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane fears ZESCO could have an edge in fitness as the South Africans will be playing a fifth game in 14 days.
“ZESCO will be well rested, but we cannot let that disturb us. We are a professional club and have to put up a good performance against all odds,” he stressed.
Rival coach George Lwandamina believes the tempo of the second leg will be a crucial factor.
“We cannot match Sundowns for speed so it is vital that we dictate the pace,” said the Zambian.