ZESCO United yesterday lifted the Barclays Cup for the fifth time after beating Zanaco 1-0 in an entertaining game played at the rain-soaked Heroes stadium in Lusaka.
Zesco would have found the back of the net inside three minutes through Jackson Were but his tamed shot was saved by Toaster Nsabata before the bankers goal-minder was forced into another smart save in quick succession when Idris Mbombo counteracted on some loose marking from Zanaco defenders and released a cracker which Nsabata tipped over.
With 13 minutes played Zesco had a penalty appeal turned off when Mbombo seemed to have been stripped in the box by George Chilufya.
Referee waved play on much to the annoyance of the bankers’ fans but box to box movements by the two teams found Zanaco victims of a penalty appeal a minute later after Kondwani Mtonga seemed to have handled the ball in the box.
Zesco immediately suffered a blow when Simon Silwimba limped off after a tussle in the build up to the penalty appeal and was replaced by Daut Musekwa. Jacob Banda was then called to action in the 15th minute when Rodrick Kabwe blitzed a half volley a metre from the centre line aimed for the top right corner but Banda tipped the ball over the bar whose resultant corner-kick was cleared to safety.
Zanaco’s scare was short-lived as Zesco momentarily missed two quick chances. John Ching’andu pumped in a corner at the edge of the box and found Were who beat his marker but ballooned the ball over the bar.
A minute later, Idris Mbombo launched onto a through ball from Ching’andu but he misjudged the distance between him and the advancing Nsabata who got to the ball earlier to thwart the danger. It then turned into a one-side affair as Zesco dominated play but were almost on the break when Zanaco attacked through Aubrey Funga who bamboozled his way through a plethora of Zanaco defenders but his fine touch went wide with 34 minutes played.
Zanaco tried to settle down as the game wore on with prolific midfielder Isaac Chansa orchestrating and initiating attacks in the midfield but Misheck Chaila proved to be a handful for Zanaco with a master-class performance which did not only provide cover for the Zesco rear, but kept a constant supply of balls upfront.
Both teams went for the break with scores still tired at 0-0 but Mbombo’s 71st minute goal proved the difference to crown an entertaining afternoon to shutter the Zanaco’s ambitions for a double this season.
Mbombo found the back of the net after Zanaco defenders were outstretched by Were on the left who launched an attack and brought in an in swinger which was missed by defenders twice before it fell to Mbombo.
Mbombo then beat one player before releasing a shot which Nsabata failed to save and sent the notorious Zesco United fans cheering the team into raptures. Some Zanaco players wept uncontrollably after the final whistle.