Zesco United and Zanaco commence their 2018 CAF Champions League campaigns on Saturday.
Both Zesco and Zanaco are seeking winning starts in their respective home and away games after reaching 2017 group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League respectively.
Zambia has four continental slots starting this year after accruing ranking points thanks to Zesco’s recent continental success that has seen them earn two Champions League and two Confederation Cup slots.
Zesco are away in Zanzibar to face local champions JKU in a preliminary round, first leg match at Amaan Stadium in a 15h30 CAT.
It will be the two side’s debut meeting and Zesco’s debut competitive engagement against a Tanzanian or Zanzibar side.
“We are here for one battle and that battle is to play JKU,” Zesco coach Tenant Chembo said.
“But for JKU to participate in this tournament, we have to respect them because they are champions of Zanzibar.
“We don’t know what they possess but we are ready for the task that is in front of us.”
Zesco have not injury or suspension concerns and welcome back veteran striker Winston Kalengo who returns two years after leaving the 2017 FAZ Super Division champions to join AC Leopards of Congo-Brazzaville.
Meanwhile, Zanaco are the only Zambian club at home this weekend while Green Buffaloes and Zesco are on the road but Nkana are on bye and only enter the CAF Confederation Cup in March.
Zanaco host Gambia Armed Forces FC at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka.
But Zanaco begin life without their influential midfielder Augustine Mulenga who joined Orlando Pirates just after Zambia were eliminated from the 2018 CHAN quarterfinals on January 27 in Morocco.
However, goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata, defender and Captain Ziyo Tembo and winger Ernest Mbewe are back from CHAN.
Meanwhile, returns legs matches for both Zesco and Zanaco are set for the mid-week of February 20-21 that will see the winners over both legs advancing to March’s pre-group stage.