LOWLY ZANACO GO TOP, LEAVING GIANTS BEHIND

Lowest seeds Zanaco of Zambia went top of their CAF Champions League group on Wednesday with a dramatic 1-0 win at Coton Sport of Cameroon, leaving two African giants behind.

Saith Sakala struck in stoppage time with a close-range shot into the far corner and lifted the Lusaka outfit to 10 points in hotly contested Group D.

Record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt have seven points and former title-holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco six. Pointless Coton Sport are out of the running.

Group winners and runners-up qualify for the quarter-finals of a competition with a record $2.5 million (2.25 million euros) first prize on offer this year.

Top seeds Ahly fell 2-0 at second seeds Wydad to suffer their first defeat and concede goals for the first time this season in the Champions League.

A lacklustre, virtually chance-less clash between Coton Sport and Zanaco in northern city Garoua was meandering toward a goalless draw as the match entered additional time.

But the adventurous spirit of Zanaco throughout the match finally paid off when Sakala controlled an Augustine Mulenga cross and scored with a low left-foot shot.

Sakala scored the first goal when Zanaco defeated Coton Sport 2-1 in Lusaka this month in another match decided by a late goal.

On July 1, Zanaco host Ahly, who are seeking to reach the knockout phase of the premier African club competition for the first time since 2013, when they last lifted the trophy.

Wydad play Coton in Cameroon the same day and will be difficult to contain if they replicate the form that overpowered Ahly before a huge crowd in an 80,000-seat stadium.

Congo Brazzaville-born Fabrice Ondama got behind a defender just after half-time and lobbed the ball delicately over onrushing goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy.

The killer second goal 11 minutes from time involved an equal degree of skill as Walid el Karty nodded a cross into the net from a difficult angle.

Al Merrikh of Sudan came from behind to edge Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique 2-1 in Omdurman and keep alive hopes of a top-two finish in Group A and a quarter-finals berth.

Manuel “Maninho” Fernandes gave the visitors a lead that Elsamani Saadeldin cancelled out before half-time and Ahmed Abdalla snatched the winner on the hour.

Former champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia top the table with seven points, Merrikh and Ferroviario have four and another Sudanese club, Al Hilal, three.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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