ZANACO will this afternoon be bidding to make early qualification from Group D of the CAF Champions League with a titanic clash against the tournament’s record winners Al Ahly at Heroes Stadium.
The Zambian champions lead the group with 10 points, followed by their Egyptian opponents who have seven, while Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca are third with six points.
The group’s whipping boys, Coton Sport of Cameroon, are bottom without a point.
This will be Zanaco’s key game to reaching the quarterfinal and coach Mumamba Numba has time and again proved his mettle on the big stage, churning win after win and proving doubters wrong.
“I think this is a big game, it holds the key to our qualification in the quarter finals. We are playing a very experienced team, the best in the group I think. We are expecting a tough game, we just have to be positive and go for a win,” Numba said.
He will, however, miss the experienced defender Ziyo Tembo who is suspended after picking up two yellow cards but his replacement, Peter Banda, showed great composure in the recent league game against Kabwe Warriors.
“The rest of the players are okay, no injuries, no illnesses and I believe Peter [Banda] who has replaced Ziyo [Tembo] will stand firm. We just have to go for a win so that we don’t go with pressure in the last game,” said Numba.
A win for Zanaco this afternoon will secure qualification with a game to spare, but the Zambian side could still go through in an event that Casablanca fails to beat Coton Sport.
Al-Ahly coach Hossam Elbadry believes Numba has turned Zanaco into a formidable side and reckons today’s match will be a tough affair.
“Numba Mumamba is a very good coach, I am not surprised that Zanaco is at the top and their players are fighters. They fight as a team,” said Elbadry.