Zesco United on Sunday shot to the top of Group C following an efficient 2-0 home win over Nkana in their opening clash Saturday at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The 2017 quarterfinalist went top on goal difference after Al Hilal of Sudan beat Ghana giants Asante Kotoko 1-0 at home in Khartoum in a simultaneous Group C kick off.
It took the opening 26 minutes for the Zesco machine to warm-up after dominating play that saw striker Lazarus Kambole denied twice in the 2nd and 10th minute while Quadri Kola miscued his 17th minute shot.
But the domination paid off in the 27th minute when midfielder John Chingandu put the Zambian champions ahead after he headed-in Anthony Akumu’s pass.
In-form striker Kambole then curled in the second on the stroke of halftime off a clever layoff from Jesse Were that eluded Nkana goalkeeper Kelvin Malunga on the near post to give the home side a 2-0 halftime lead.
Kambole took his tally to five goals, tied with teammate Were on the continent.
However, the second half was all Nkana with striker Festus Mbewe directing his header marginally high in the 48th minute.
Nkana striker Ronald Kampamba brought the best out of Zesco goalkeeper Dieudonne Ntibahezwa with a fine shot on the turn in the 58th minute but the Burundi Under-23 international was in top form when he gathered the Zambia attackers’ venomous volley with ease.
Zesco then elected to defend en-masse and were little troubled by Nkana’s flurry and held onto collect a vital win to take away on February 13 to Ghana to face third placed Asante Kotoko.
Bottom placed Nkana stay home in Zambia and await second placed Al Hilal at home in Kitwe on the same date.