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Owino braces up for Sundowns ahead of CL

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Zesco United's David 'Calabar' Owino vying for the ball in a past CAF Champions League match.PHOTO/courtesy.
Zesco United’s David ‘Calabar’ Owino vying for the ball in a past CAF Champions League match.PHOTO/courtesy.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5- Harambee Stars and Zesco United defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino says he is not afraid of Mamelodi Sundowns attacking midfielder Khama Billiat as his Zambian club prepares to face the South African outfit in the semi-final of the CAF Champions League next weekend.

Billiat has been in superb form for Sundowns and his output in the 2015/16 South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) earned him three awards.

But Owino, who also eyes making history with the Zambian side, is ready for the challenge.

“I know he is good, but I’m equally good,” Owino said as he looked forward to the first-leg match to be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola September 18.

The hard tackling former Gor Mahia and Sher Karuturi defender has been a pillar of the Zesco backline.

The Zambian champions are seen as the dark horses of this year’s championship having made it to the last four for the first time ever in their history after finishing second in their group behind winners Wydad Cassablanca of Morocco.

“It has been a tough journey but nothing good comes easy. We have faced tough opponents but our hard work has seen us get here. I think what has been our biggest strength so far is our fitness levels because we can endure a tough match with the same energy from the first to the last minute,” Owino offered.

Zesco United players line up before a past match
Zesco United players line up before a past match.PHOTO/courtesy

Zesco’s best ever previous performance in continental football was in 2009 when they reached the group stages, finishing third in Group A behind Nigeria’s Kano Pillars and Sudan’s Al Hilal.

“We can go on and make history. I believe we have what it takes to go all the way to the final. It’s just a matter of belief and working hard over the next 180 minutes against Sundowns,” Owino said.

The two sides have played previously in pre-season friendly matches but Zesco is yet to register a win.

Zesco midfielder Anthony Akumu believes his team can build from their perfect run in the preliminaries and group matches to knick a place in the final.

“We have come to a very crucial stage in our campaign. This is where we have to concentrate and take everything with dedication. We have worked so hard to get here and now, we have the opportunity to make everything count,” Akumu asserted.

“I have played in the Champions League and confederations Cup with Gor Mahia and El Mereikh before, but I have never managed to get past the second round. For me, this is a dream come true and a huge achievement,” Akumu added.

Jesse Were scored a brace in the match.PHOTO/courtesy
Jesse Were scored a brace in the match.PHOTO/courtesy

With Owino anchoring the defense and Akumu pulling strings in midfield, the team will rely on the prowess of another Kenyan Jesse Were for goals, with the former Mathare United and Tusker striker having scored three in the Champions League this season.

He is the second best scorer for the side alongside Clatous Chama with Congolese Idriss Mbombo having scored four.

Were hopes to add on to his tally in the semis though he concedes it will not be an easy outing.

“It’s a tough test for us but we have come from far to fear the next challenge. We are taking it head on and hopefully we go all the way,” Jesse Were said.

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