NKOLOMA Stadium on Saturday could not accommodate the enthusiastic soccer fans who poured into the Lusaka-based stadium to watch Green Eagles’ maiden CAF Champions League match against South African giants Orlando Pirates.
Green Eagles won by a solitary goal through midfielder Spencer Sautu and that is all they needed to carry the day as they defended the score-line with all they had.
Eagles coach Aggrey Chiyangi said the first leg win will escalate the tempo of the return game.
“It was a tough match but we had planned to unsettle them and score which we did. I was worried about them playing behind our midfield because I did not want them passing balls behind our midfield,” Chiyangi said.
“I never expected such a big crowd to turn up in Lusaka to support us but had we played in Choma, maybe the story would have been better because that is our home but we still played in Zambia.”
He added that he had told his players to mark Augustine Mulenga to bar him from finding the back of the net.
“We were cautious and worried about Augustine Mulenga and that is why we needed someone with pace to be on him… playing the second leg won’t be an easy game but it will be 50/50,” he said.
And a confident stand-in captain Gift Wamundila promised a good result in the return leg.
“From this game, we have learnt some lessons and we have showed that we have maintained a rise in our performance and we can assure our fans that we will perform in South Africa,” said Wamundila.
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic said Eagles had outplayed his boys but the chances of survival were still fertile.
“We will need to score more goals in the return match for us to proceed to the next round. … Eagles gave us a good challenge and we give them credit for that. Our players did their best although it was not good enough but our chances [of proceeding to the next round] are still realistic but we need to prepare ourselves,” said Sredojevic.
Pirates captain Happy Jele said: “I’m disappointed with the result.”
As soccer fans trekked to watch their CAF envoys, long queues at entry points and a crammed car park characterised the stadium vicinity.
Impatient fans could not stand the long queues at the gates and resorted to abandoning it and going away while many resolved to still walk into the packed stadium to catch a glimpse of the blissful match.
And in other fixtures, Zesco United FC in action in the same league defeated Green Mambas of eSwatini 0-2 while Buildcon FC tumbled 0-1 at home in their debut Confederation Cup at the hands of Young Buffaloes of eSwatini.
The return games will be played after next weekend while Zanaco FC who are also part of the Confederation Cup are on bye and will join competition in the next round./MC/LM