Johannesburg (AFP) – Nkana FC of Zambia are clinging to a 2-1 CAF Confederation Cup aggregate lead before facing CS Sfaxien in Tunisia Sunday, but coach Beston Chambeshi insists he feels no pressure.
“Everything is fine,” he told reporters ahead of the quarter-final second leg in Mediterranean industrial city Sfax.
“We beat Sfaxien in the first leg so why should there be pressure on us? I admit the team have been poor travellers this season but we will solve that problem.”
Nkana suffered three heavy away losses in the group phase, conceding nine goals against fellow Zambians Zesco United, Asante Kotoko in Ghana and Al Hilal in Sudan.
Despite the optimism of former national team star Chambeshi, record three-time Confederation Cup winners Sfaxien are favoured to win the second leg and the tie.
They are unbeaten at home in Africa this season under Dutch coach Ruud Krol and trounced another Zambian club, Green Buffaloes, 4-1 in a qualifier in Tunisia.
“I was the coach when Sfaxien won the Confederation Cup a third time six years ago and it is great to be in contention for the title once again,” said Krol.
AFP Sport previews the quarter-final second legs with CS Sfaxien, Renaissance Berkane of Morocco and Zamalek of Egypt set to book semi-finals places this weekend.
Sfaxien v Nkana
The narrow loss away to Nkana was the first in nine CAF matches for Sfaxien, who have been among the title favourites since this edition kicked off last November.
They are a typical north African club — virtually invincible at home and capable of snatching precious away goals as Habib Oueslati did in Zambia with six minutes left.
That late strike leaves Sfaxien needing just a 1-0 home win to progress and they should succeed against Nkana, who excel at home and struggle away.
Berkane v Gor
Even Turkey-born coach Hassan Oktay admits Gor Mahia of Kenya face an almost impossible task after losing 2-0 at home to 2018 quarter-finalists Berkane.
He and captain/defender Harun Shakava can be involved after serving one-match bans, but star striker Jacques Tuyisenge is among three regulars still out owing to suspensions.
Berkane have been formidable at their stadium in northeastern Morocco, winning four matches and drawing one with Togolese sharpshooter Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba starring.
Zamalek v Agadir
Nine-time CAF title winners Zamalek of Egypt are set to dump another Moroccan club out of the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League after drawing 0-0 away to Hassania Agadir.
At the play-offs stage three months ago, the White Knights of Cairo eliminated Ittihad Tangier by drawing away and winning at home.
Zamalek are on a six-match unbeaten CAF run under former Tottenham manager Christian Gross and the return to fitness of Kahraba gives him a near full-strength squad to choose from.
Hilal v Etoile
The return match in Omdurman was postponed after the fall of longtime Sudan autocrat Omar al-Bashir with Al Hilal hoping to overturn a 3-1 deficit against Etoile Sahel of Tunisia.
A CAF statement said a new venue for the second leg will be scheduled at a later date, with reports indicating it will be relocated to Addis Ababa and played on April 22.
Penalties played a crucial role in the first leg as twice Confederation Cup winners Etoile were awarded three in total — Yassine Chikhaoui converted two while Karim Aouadhi missed another.
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