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Nkana defend 36-year unbeaten CAF record in Zambian showdown

Johannesburg (AFP) – Nkana FC take the confidence of never losing a CAF match at home into a crucial Confederation Cup matchday 5 showdown with fellow Zambian club Zesco United Sunday. 

The remarkable run by the Kitwe outfit began in 1983 and spans 59 matches over 36 years in four current and past pan-African competitions.

Being unbeatable at home has not, however, brought any titles with Nkana coming closest in 1990 when they were African Cup of Champions Clubs (now CAF Champions League) runners-up.

And despite winning all three home games this season in the second-tier Confederation Cup, they are battling to finish among the top two in Group C and secure a last-eight place. 

Realistically, with two group games left, Nkana must beat bottom club Zesco, then take a point off Al Hilal of Sudan in intimidating and steamy Omdurman next Sunday to avoid elimination. 

AFP Sport previews the penultimate round of group matches with three clashes between clubs from the same country among the eight fixtures.

Group A

Trophy-holders Raja Casablanca are bottom of their group but if they win their remaining two matches they will survive. The first, at home to fellow Moroccans Hassania Agadir, should be the easier.

Raja were enraged by several refereeing decisions last weekend in a 0-0 draw at another Moroccan side, Renaissance Berkane, which led to the Cameroonian referee being banned for one year. 

Berkane are at home again, this time against second-place AS Otoho Oyo of Congo Brazzaville, and a victory will ensure they are one of the two qualifiers from this section.

Group B

Twice Confederation Cup winners Etoile Sahel started sluggishly as they lost at home to fellow Tunisians CS Sfaxien, then drew away to Burkina Faso academy club Salitas FC. 

But home and away victories over previously unbeaten Enugu Rangers of Nigeria have lifted the side, guided by veteran French coach Roger Lemerre, to top spot ahead of a visit to Sfaxien.   

Third-place Enugu desperately need maximum points away to Salitas, who have yet to score in a four group match, to claw back into contention for a top-two finish.

Group C

Zesco were seeded to win this section, but after starting with a home win over Nkana they have secured just one point from a possible nine and prop up the standings.  

To survive, the club bankrolled by the national electricity supply company, are going to have to win at Nkana, a feat no African club has achieved in 59 matches.

While the Zambians scrap for precious points, the leadership could change as second-place Asante Kotoko of Ghana are at home to frontrunners Al Hilal in Kumasi.  

Group D

After having an equaliser controversially disallowed in Algeria last weekend, Gor Mahia of Kenya remained in north Africa to prepare for a match against revenge-seeking Zamalek of Egypt.

The Cairo White Knights crumbled 4-2 away to Gor two months ago with Rwandan sharpshooter Jacques Tuyisenge notching a brace for the Nairobi outfit.

Third-place Zamalek need maximum points, and so do bottom club Petro Atletico of Angola, who host leaders NA Hussein Dey of Algeria.


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