ECCO City Greens' attempt to win their first Coca-Cola Cup will come under severe test when the Francistown side hosts high riding Extension Gunners in a quarter-final tie on Sunday.
While Gunners have won the Coke Cup before, ECCO are still searching for their first title although they came agonisingly close in 2007 when they lost to BMC in the final.
Gunners know that travelling to Francistown to face ECCO has always been a tough ask, but Uniao Flamengo Santos proved last weekend that the former league champions are not invincible at their home ground. Santos blasted ECCO 4-2 in a league match and Gunners would draw inspiration from the result. Gunners' coach, Daniel 'Chico' Nare does not see home ground counting in this encounter. "This is a cup game, it is a different ball game altogether. They are at home but I don't think that will work in their favour," Nare said. He acknowledged that ECCO has some good players but his charges are equal to the task. Nare said although ECCO beat them in their last visit to Francistown in the league, he does not foresee a repeat. ECCO won the league match 2-1 a fortnight ago.
"It will be a tough game. We played them recently and they beat us 2-1 in a game we should have come out with at least a draw," Nare said.
Gunners have been brilliant in the league, monopolising third spot and they look to replicate the good run in the Coca-Cola Cup.
The country's premier knockout competition guarantees winners P500,000 and participation in the CAF Confederations Cup. Morale is still high in the Gunners' camp after they completed a league double over CAF Champions League campaigners, Gaborone United last week.
The team has been playing exciting football all season with Monageng Thaele, Maano Ditshupo, Ofentse Mmipi and Aime Nzohambanayo influential. Zambian striker, Bernard Semakwezi seem to have rediscovered his scoring touch after a lean spell and will be relied upon for goals on Sunday. Semakwezi netted a brace against GU last week.
Just like Gunners, ECCO is teeming with match winners. From the gangly, Mandlaenkosi 'Sunkunyetsa' Sibanda to the reliable goalkeeper, Michael Onkutlule, ECCO has players capable of winning the game. Sibanda combines well with Fraizer Mpofu, Robert Tamba and skipper, Malepa Bolelang who has slipped down the pecking order. At the back, Ontse Ntesa, Trinity Nko and Nkosinathi Dube keep things tight. Efforts to get a comment from ECCO coach, Max Moyo drew a blank as his phone rang unanswered. His assistant, Atshele Molapi said only the head coach can comment about the match.