Nigeria champions Enugu Rangers risk elimination from this year’s CAF Confederation Cup after they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with visiting Zesco United of Zambia at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu today.
Rangers could even count themselves lucky not to have lost in front of their supporters as the visitors almost won the game on the death with Ntonga shooting into goalkeeper Nana Bonsu’s hands as he only gathered on second attempt.
The game got underway in a somewhat slow pace, but soon bust into live when Kondwani Mtonga flashed his effort wide of post in a thrilling counter-attacking play. That was exactly three minutes after kick off.
Two minutes later, Daniel Etor should have handed Rangers the lead after getting clear inside the box but the left-footed dazzler opted not to be selfish by dropping the ball for advancing Godwin Aguda, who was split seconds late to the finishing line.
The visitors came close to taking a shock lead in the ninth minute when Fackson Kaunga stung the palms of goalkeeper Bonsu from a free kick close to the area. The shot-stopper managed to palm the ball into corner kick much to the relief of Rangers and their hordes of supporters.
Zesco had an appeal for a penalty waved off by the Senegalese referee when David Odhiambo went to the ground inside Rangers box in the 12th minute.
The visitors became more adventurous with Agay Akumbu going solo in a swift counter attacking play, but goalkeeper Bonsu rushed timely out to grab the ball before the striker could get to it.
Rangers opening goal arrived in the 24th minute from the penalty spot after Godwin Aguda had been felled inside the box.
Captain Chibuzor Madu dispatched the resulting penalty kick inside the net, with the bewildered goalkeeper Jacob Banda rooted to his spot.
It was welcome development as the restive ‘Flying Antelopes’ now found their confidence to push for more.
Perhaps, the clearest scoring opportunity of the half fell to Patrick Kongolo in the 38th minute, when defender Pape Ousmane chest-trapped the ball to his goalkeeper, but the back pass short-landed for Kongolo who dispatched his effort criminally wide off post.
The two sides went into the break with Rangers a goal up.
After coach Imama Amapakabo’s half time talk, Rangers, who now emerged from the tunnel in a fresh all-white jersies, turned on the heat on their guests.
And it was an instant reward as Osas Okoro doubled Rangers advantage after poking the ball inside the net after Zesco captain and goalkeeper Jacob Banda failed to properly deal with a cross from the right hand channel.
On the hour mark, Rangers underlined their attacking intent and pushed for more goals when Imama sent in striker Tope Olusesi in place of Daniel Etor.
Chiamaka Madu replaced Bobby Clement on 69th minute as Rangers threw all efforts into nicking more goals.
David Owino halved the deficit for Zesco in the 72 minute, when he fired home after a goalmouth tussle following a corner kick from the right.
Zesco then drew level on 76th minute when Patrick Kongolo tapped home during a build-up from the right.
By Sab Osuji in Enugu