COLLINS Mbesuma will be on the wrong side of the pitch today when his South African Orlando Pirates side and Zambian champions, Zanaco face off in the Orange Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League first round, first leg match at Nkoloma Stadium.
A player whose career seemed doomed soon after a bright start to international football, Mbesuma has rediscovered his form and will lead the Orlando Pirates crusade of coming off Nkoloma Stadium with a positive result over Zanaco.
But as he acknowledged, playing against Zanaco will not be easy for Pirates and also quickly removed any stains of allegiance that could be existing for a Zambian team he will be facing.
With no sentiments attached to this game, Zanaco will unleash big forward Davies Mwape, a former Pirate himself in the hope he will inflict pain on the Soweto team and push his side on in continental football.
But Zanaco, especially assistant coach Numba Mumamba, can profess he has encountered a bigger terror in Mbesuma when he was at Roan United and can rally his charges that the burly striker is now less mobile and therefore less danger for Zanaco.
The person likely to pose the greatest threat to Zanaco is Zimbabwean forward Takesure Chinyama as former international Benni McCarthy struggles to recover from a knee injury.
Zanaco coach Keagan Mumba admits Pirates are a bigger side but has refused his chargers will cower at the sight of the South African and adding he had devised a way to repel the South Africa side and hit them where it hurts most.
And apart from Mwape, Zanaco have in their ranks a player with huge potential in form of Mwape Musonda and a game this big could just be his chance to burst on to the international scene with aplomb.
With Pirates missing key defender Siyabonga Sangweni, the twin Zanaco strike force of Mwape and Musonda can hope to capitalise on his absence and get a good head start going into the second leg early next month.
However, both coaches should be wary of the midfield because the control room will dictate the game and determine victory or doom for either side; with Mumba expected to resort to the diamond formation that has gradually grown in confidence this season after a slow start which was mainly caused by lack of fitness.
Hugely impressive Samson Chilupe should anchor Zanaco's midfield with support from the exiting duo of team captain Henry Banda as well as trump card Roderick Kabwe who packs a shot.
Pirates on the other hand, have a midfield full of flare with Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa and Daine Klate which sometimes switches to long balls when McCarthy is playing.
Pirate's coach Roger de Sa is happy though that his team is going into this game completely unaware of their opponents unlike the previous stage having watched Zanaco in Swaziland and admits the game could be physical.
He has to shuffle his team to play without the pair of dependable defender Sangweni and striker Thulasizwe Mbuyane, who both started in the 0-0 draw against Kaiser Chiefs at the weekend.
As Pirates will be living without Sangweni, Zanaco have their own problem through the absence of defence linchpin Kunda Mushota who got injured in the Charity Shield final 1-2 loss to Power Dynamos at the weekend.
Lee Ngoma will have to stand up to the challenge in this area and stop Pirates attack of either McCarthy or Mbesuma to part Chinyama, who have all not been firing well the last few games.
Zanaco though have some reliable defenders to look up to with confidence in the form of international call ups; Salulani Phiri and Fackson Kapumbu to thwart any danger that may come Roger Kola's way.
Aside the Zanaco-Pirates duel, this match brings with it the football rivalry that exists between Zambia and South Africa which is epitomised at the highest level between the Chipolopolo and Bafana Bafana.
This trans Zambezi-Limpopo derby was given a new impetus in December last year with the under-20 teams in the boys and girls meeting in the finals of the Zone Six Games held in Lusaka with the top medal being split equally.
So at stake this afternoon will be a battle beyond these two but a national bragging right.
Meanwhile, Yvonne Sakala reports that SuperSport will this afternoon broadcast live the CAF champion's league game between Zanaco and Pirates.
Multichoice Zambia public relations manager, Marlon Kananda said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that the match had generally created a lot of interest among soccer fans in the two countries.
Kananda said it was for that fact that SuperSport decided to be at hand to allow fans watch their favourite teams battle it out in the first round, first leg encounter of the CAF champions league.
"This is to confirm that SuperSport will broadcast the game between Zambian league Champions Zanaco Football Club and South African Champions Orlando Pirates on Saturday March 16th at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka."
"The game has generally created a lot of interest among soccer fans in Zambia and South Africa and SuperSport will be on hand to allow the fans watch their favourite teams battle it out," Kananda said.
He said MultiChoice and SuperSport were proud to be associated with the Zambian game through the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) adding SuperSport had committed itself to continue showing the Zambian Super league in 2013 MTN/FAZ super division soccer season.
He the company was expected to increase the number of games this season and that soccer fans should look forward to an exciting 2013 adding that all Zambian super league games will be screened on SuperSport 9 only on DStv.