African Soccer 6.7.2017 01:22 pm

Nothing can stop us, insists Zanaco coach

Zanaco FC coach Numba Mumamba

Zanaco FC coach Numba Mumamba

Coach Mumamba Numba insists “nothing can stop” Zanaco of Zambia reaching the CAF Champions League quarter-finals this weekend when they tackle Wydad Casablanca in Morocco.

The Lusaka-based outfit top hotly-contested Group D, two points ahead of former champions Wydad and three in front of record eight-time title-holders Al Ahly of Egypt with one round left.

But despite being in front, a Zanaco defeat Saturday in front of an expected 80,000 crowd would almost certainly see them drop to third and miss the knockout phase.

Should Wydad win they will climb to 12 points and an Ahly victory in Alexandria over bottom club Coton Sport of Cameroon will lift them to second on goal difference if Zanaco fail.

Numba, who has transformed the Zambians from perennial Champions League flops to a team that beat Wydad at home and held Ahly twice, believes a different scenario will unfold.

“I have faith in my young, talented team and know we can qualify for the quarter-finals,” he told reporters before flying to Morocco. “Nothing can stop us.

“We are not going there to meekly surrender and give Wydad three easy points. Our mission is to compete and get a result that ensures Zanaco qualify.

“Why should we be intimidated by the fact that Wydad have won all their home matches in the Champions League this year? Records are made to be broken.”

A draw will ensure Zanaco not only qualify, but also win the group and set up a probable quarter-final against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.

Group B is equally intriguing with leaders USM Alger of Algeria, Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya, CAPS United of Zimbabwe and bottom club Zamalek of Egypt all in contention.

USM host CAPS in Algiers and form suggests three points for the north African outfit as they have won both home group games while the visitors have lost both away matches.

Although Zamalek have taken only two points from a possible 12 in four Champions League matches, under-fire Portuguese coach Augusto Inacio remains hopeful.

“The team gave their worst performance under my guidance when losing at CAPS last weekend, wasting very good scoring chances,” he admitted.

“But we still have a chance to qualify by defeating Ahly Tripoli,” he said of a club that lost the final to Sundowns last year.

Unless CAPS stun USM, Zamalek will go through as runners-up provided they collect maximum points against the Libyans in Cairo.

Etoile Sahel of Tunisia have advanced from Group A and opponents Al Merrikh of Sudan are likely to join them unless Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique beat Al Hilal in Sudan.

Leaders Esperance of Tunisia and Sundowns qualified from Group C last weekend, but with only one point separating them, top place is still up for grabs.

Esperance host Saint George of Ethiopia, who boast the leading 2017 Champions League scorer in seven-goal Saladin Said.

Sundowns, who progressed despite taking only one point from two home games, will hope for a better outcome when they host V Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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2 Baroka FC 5 11
3 Orlando Pirates 5 11
4 Kaizer Chiefs 5 8
5 Maritzburg United 5 8
6 SuperSport United 4 7
7 AmaZulu 5 7
8 Mamelodi Sundowns 3 6
9 Cape Town City 4 6
10 Bloem Celtic 4 5
11 Chippa United 5 5
12 Ajax Cape Town 4 4
13 Free State Stars 5 4
14 Polokwane City 5 4
15 Bidvest Wits 5 2
16 Platinum Stars 5 1

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