Zambia’s last man standing vying for CAF Interclub competition honours this season, Zanaco, embark on mission impossible on Sunday in their quest to end a 28-year jinx away in Morocco when they visit RS Berkane.
Following fellows Zesco United’s failure to qualify to the knockout stage of the Total CAF Champions League, the onus is on Zanaco to maintain the country’s interest in the continental club championship.
Zanaco are currently second in Group C on nine points, one shy of leaders Berkane, and two richer than Motema Pembe of DR Congo. Debutants ESAE of Benin has managed just a point after five matches. Berkane is already through to the last eight leaving the group’s other slot to Zanaco and Motema Pembe to fight for.
But despite Zambia and Morocco’s rich football rivalry dating back to 1973, their duels at club level are fairly in their infancy with the scale of success weighing heavily in the North Africans favour.
Zambian club’s have lost all eight away games dating back to 1992 when Nkana made the first trip north to face two-time African champions Wydad Athletic Club.
Interestingly, Zanaco currently hold the number of record visits with three and Sunday’s meeting will be their fourth.
Zanaco’s home record against Morocco opposition currently stands at two draws one win and a defeat.
They also drew 1-1 against their hosts and 2018/2019 CAF Confederation Cup runners-up in their first leg Group C meeting on 8 December in Lusaka.
Compatriots Zesco have left Morocco with two defeats, while Nkana and Power Dynamos have one each on the road.
However, Moroccan clubs have fared much better away with one win, four draws and as many defeats.
An interesting statistic also sees Moroccan clubs currently unbeaten away in Zambia in their last four games since Zesco’s 1-0 home group stage victory against eventual 2017 CAF Champions League winners, Wydad Athletic Club.
Since then, Moroccan clubs’ have won one, a 2-0 victory by 2018 CAF Confederation Cup champions Raja Club Athletic, who defeated Zanaco in that fixture and later won 3-0 at home in the pre-group stage en-route to their crowning that season.
Hassania Agadir and Berkane have subsequently left Zambia with draws.
Meanwhile, Zanaco coach Chris Kaunda heads to Morocco for his first away game in all competitions since his appointment on 9 January.
Kaunda has also won both his first two Group C matches in charge plus three domestic league games, all in home matches in Lusaka.
And now Morocco beckons for the new man who is making his debut in the African Club Championship as Zanaco bank on him to steer them to their first-ever final knockout stage qualification.
I feel we just have to stay focused as a team and as a club and then see the way forward how we are going to play in Morocco, Kaunda said.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)