Betway

Zambian outfit Green Eagles embark on a mission impossible to Angola next Sunday where they are 90 minutes away from a potential fairy tale group stage qualification in just their second season of competing in the continental club championships.

Eagles face Angola giants Premiero de Agosto in a Total CAF Champions League Round of 16 second leg in Luanda trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Lusaka a fortnight ago.

“It is going to be an uphill battle but in football anything can happen,” Eagles coach Aggrey Chiyangi said.

“The only thing that we need to do is we have to go there and play our lungs out. Before we do that, we have to plan well and be mentally strong but football is football, anything can happen.”

Eagles are hoping to become only the fourth Zambian club to play in the league phase of a CAF Inter-Club competition joining Zesco United, Nkana and Zanaco.

But what is more interesting is the humble background of the side who hail from the major agriculture hub of Choma in Zambia’s Southern Province.

Eagles’ previous best finish since making their top-flight debut in 2008 was seventh in 2014. They are also the first club from the Province to play in CAF Inter-Club football.

They made their continental debut in the 2018/2019 Total CAF Confederation Cup after eleven modest years in-and-out of the Zambian top flight. The Eagles reached the second round after NA Hussein Dey of Algeria eliminated them 2-1 on aggregate after beating them by the same margin in the final leg in Algiers.

This season, they are back and have not disappointed in the premier continental club championship, after finishing second in the Zambian elite division, their first time in the club’s history.

They have already stolen the headlines after producing the shock result of the last round with a giant-killing act over Orlando Pirates of South Africa whom they beat 1-0 in the first leg in Lusaka and held 1-1 away in Johannesburg to eliminate the 1995 champions and 2013 runners-ups.

That feat also came by dint of hard work after preparing for their African campaign with a third place finish as guest team at the 2019 CECAFA Club Cup in Rwanda last July.

“This is history for the club because this is the first time the club has competed in this competition and reaching this far is historic,” Chiyangi said.

Eagles’ recent success has come under Chiyangi’s reign, who joined the club from Nkana halfway through the 2017 season when he steered them from demotion.

In the 2018 season, Chiyangi led Eagles to their best-ever finish in fourth, that earned them qualification to the second-tier Total CAF Confederation Cup, before going two steps better in 2019 with second place and ticket to the prestigious Total CAF Champions League. However, Eagles have not won any domestic silverware.

The Lusaka-based club have also yet to reach a domestic cup final with their best attempt also coming under Chiyangi in the 2019 season but bowed out in the ABSA Cup semifinals after losing 3-2 on penalties to Zanaco following a 1-1 fulltime result.

Goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange is currently Zambia first choice and together with striker Tapson Kaseba, who scored the goal in the 1-0 win over Botswana in that final, are the notable internationals in the Eagles team. Another is Amity Shamende, who scored the only goal in Zambia’s win over Eswatini in the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier last weekend away in Manzini.

Meanwhile, coach Chiyangi is no small fry and is currently interim Zambia national team coach and steered them to the ultimate at the regional COSAFA Cup in South Africa last June. As a player, he was a member of the Power Dynamos team that lifted the 1991 CAF Cup Winners Cup, the only continental honour by a Zambian club till date.

Interestingly, Chiyangi’s giant-killing act over Pirates ended the South African clubs’ dominance over Zambian opposition and had hitherto this year never been eliminated by a Zambian side on the continent.

And now, Eagles face a massive test to maintain that reputation against the 1998 CAF Cup Winners Cup losing finalists Agosto. The Angolans have also never lost to Zambian opposition and now stand in the way of denying Eagles the title of ‘Comeback Kid’ in their ensuing milestone race.

Source: cafonline

www.sports24ghana.com