Zesco United’s 2018/2019 CAF Champions League group stage hopes suffered a setback on Sunday away in DR Congo where they lost 1-0 to TP Mazembe.
The loss has left Zesco needing to beat the five-time African champions by 2-0 in the pre-group stage final leg on December 22 at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola to advance.
The first leg, meanwhile, was settled in the 18th minute when DR Congo striker Jackson Muleka turned-in across from veteran midfielder Tresor Mputu.
Zesco’s best opportunity for a goal in the first half came four minutes earlier but striker Lazarus Kambole’s effort was intercepted by his Chipolopolo teammate and defender Kabaso Chongo.
And Zesco had goalkeeper Jacob Banda to thank for keeping the score line narrow before halftime when he denied Ben Malango earlier in the 16th minute and was again on duty to stop Muleka’s 30th minute effort.
Mazembe continued to dominate their guests after the interval and captain Rainford Kalaba twice came close to punishing his compatriots in the 64th minute when he sent his effort wide and the 76th minute when his shot came off the woodwork.
Zesco and Mazembe meet in the final leg this Saturday with the victor over both legs qualifying to January’s group stage while the loser will be relegated to the CAF Confederation Cup pre-group stage that kicks off next month.