Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER breezing past Malagasy lightweights AS Adema, the real deal starts for Harare City when they meet Zambian top-flight side Zanaco in the first round of the Confederation Cup on the weekend of March 11-13.
The Sunshine Boys will be at home first before making the cross border trip to Lusaka on the weekend of March 18-20, for the return leg.
The Chibuku Super Cup winners, featuring in the continental inter-club competition for the first time, secured a safe passage after destroying AS Adema 6-3 on aggregate.
That result left the Sunshine Boys in bullish mood and their midfielder, Raphael Manuvire, has become the early pacesetter on the scoring charts in the competition with three goals.
But Harare City, who returned home to a heroes welcome on Monday night, know the real challenge starts now and the competition gets tougher.
Zanaco’s record on the continent shows they will provide tougher opposition for coach Taurai Mangwiro and his men.
The Lusaka giants have made five Champions League appearances and in 2010 they reached the group stage of the competition.
They also reached the first round of the same competition in 2003, 2006 and 2007.
Zambian journalist Shamaoma Musonda said Harare City should brace for a tough test.
Musonda, who is a Deputy Sports Editor with The Times of Zambia, told The Herald from Lusaka that Zanaco, who finished second in the championship race last season, are determined to make their presence felt in the CAF competition and should never be taken lightly.
“They are a good side and acquired new players to beef up their team during the off season. Having missed out on winning the league title last year, they are determined to perform better during the Confederation Cup games.
“They have been preparing well and in the international four-club tournament, which featured Zimbabwean champions Chicken Inn, they finished second.
“They have been a consistent side in the last ten years or so. They are quite strong but never really made as big an impact on the continent.
“They are a young side with very ambitious players. They are not to be taken lightly,” Musonda said.
Zanaco, who have won six Zambian championship titles and several knockout tournaments, provided four players — veteran midfielder Isaac Chansa, Salulani Phiri, defender George Chilufya and goalkeeper Racha Kola — to the Chipolopolo side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda.
Harare City also had a strong presence in the Warriors CHAN squad with six of their players making the team that represented the country in Rwanda.