A brace from John Chingandu and a goal from Kenyan Jesse Jackson were all Zesco needed to ensure that the Flying Antelopes, who are currently sitting at the bottom of the Nigeria Professional Football League, crash out of the competition.
Zesco thus advanced to the first-ever 16-team group phase of the tournament on a 5-2 aggregate after the first leg in Enugu a week ago ended in a 2-2 draw.
Nigeria will now hope that Rivers United, who are the country’s second team on the continent, will do well against Rwandan side, Rayon Sport, in their first leg clash at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, today.
The drama leading up to Saturday’s game included the sacking of 2016 title-winning coach Imama Amapakabo by the club’s management and the rejection of the decision thereafter by the Enugu State government as well as the players’ pay strike, which meant Rangers only landed in Zambia two hours to the kick-off time.
Zesco controlled the game before Chingandu opened the scoring after 25 minutes when he rifled home from inside the box. The striker doubled his team’s lead on 39 minutes when he connected a header just before Rangers’ goalkeeper, Nana Bonsu, who was said to be half-fit for the match, could get to the long ball inside the box.
Home team Zesco increased their lead after 63 minutes when Were chipped his shot beyond a stranded Bonsu after he controlled a goal kick by goalkeeper Banda.
Rangers, who reportedly drove straight to the stadium from the airport, hardly created any clear-cut chance to trouble their hosts while Zesco created more chances in the second half.
Rangers’ interim coach, Chukwuma Agbo, said the game was already lost in the first leg played in Enugu last week.
“We got to Zambia less than two hours before the game. We are humans and we can’t cheat nature. My players didn’t eat since yesterday and the Zesco players are more physical, which proved decisive in the game but all the same I’m proud of the players,” he said. Punch