(By Darious Kapembwa in Khartoum, Sudan)
IT’S a break or make for Nkana as they bid to make it to the quarterfinals of the CAF Confederation cup when they face Al Hilal Omdurman at the 75,000 capacity Khartoum national stadium this evening.
The Kitwe side lead group C with nine points, followed by Hilal with eight points, Asante Kotoko of Ghana are third with seven points while Zesco United are bottom with four points going into the final round of games this evening.
Considering that the top three teams stand a chance to qualify to the next round, Nkana will therefore need the favour of fellow Zambians, Zesco, to make it easy for them to qualify.
Zesco have already been eliminated and will just be playing for pride but need to hold Kotoko in order for Nkana to have smooth passage to the quarterfinals.
Nkana will qualify with any result provided Zesco avoids defeat at home to Kotoko.
But Beston Chambeshi is calling on his players to show maturity and stand the pressure of playing under an intimidating atmosphere and get a result of their own.
“We have tried our best to psyche them over stage fright. They just have to be mature and feel the heat of the 12th player and perform, because you know football is 11 players, they have to believe in themselves so that we can get a good result,” Chambeshi said.
He said his team, which was written off at the start of the tournament, would fight to finish on a good note.
“When draws were made, no one thought Nkana will be where we are, the favourites were Zesco and Kotoko. We just have to fight for a positive result. It’s an important game for both teams. We have come here for a mission and we have to finish on a good note,” said Chambeshi.
Chambeshi is buoyed by the return to the squad of defenders Musa Mohammed and Richard Okran who missed the last two games due to suspension.
But young defender Moses Nyondo is with the under-23 national team in Malawi while Gift Zulu and bullish midfielder Fred Tshimenga are suspended.
In Ndola, Zesco will be looking to go seven games without a win with coach George Lwandamina pledging to preserve national pride when desperate-for-points Kotoko come calling.
The games kick-off simultaneously at 18:00 hours and will be live on Supersport television.
Draws for the quarter finals will be made on March 20 in Cairo.