Cup glory beckons for Kenyan club
Sofapaka are one victory away from becoming the first Kenyan club to reach the CAF Confederation Cup play-offs.
The Nairobi team host Saint Eloi Lupopo of the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend needing to overcome a 2-1 first leg loss two weeks ago in the third round tie. After conceding two goals before half-time in southern mining hub Lubumbashi, the Kenyans snatched a precious away goal via midfielder Humphrey Mieno 60 seconds from full time.
That goal counts double in the event of an aggregate stalemate so a 1-0 victory for Sofapaka before their supporters would take them to the last-16 phase of the second-tier African competition. Sofapaka have had mixed home results in previous rounds, drawing 0-0 with Aviacao of Angola and thumping former African champions Ismailia of Egypt 4-0 in the shock result of the competition this year.
A boost for the Kenyans will be the availability of the Congo DR trio - defender Dodo Kayombo and midfielders Heritier Ndombele and Patrick Kagogo - whose refugee status prevented them returning to their homeland last month. Kenya had a dismal Confederation Cup record until this year with Chemilil Sugar, World Hope and famous Nairobi clubs Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards making first round exits.
Lupopo, who live in the long shadow cast by neighbours and 2010 FIFA Club World Cup runners-up TP Mazembe, fared better away than at home against Nchanga Rangers of Zambia in the previous round en route to a 3-0 aggregate win.
Nigeria could have two teams in the play-offs with Sunshine Stars leading Burkina Faso military club USFA 2-0 ahead of the return match in Ouagadougou thanks to a Sunday Emmanuel brace. Kaduna United received a walkover when 2006 Confederation Cup winners Etoile Sahel of Tunisia refused to play in Nigeria, citing security fears after recent local violence.
Title holders FUS Rabat of Morocco are staring elimination after being held 1-1 at home by Primeiro Agosto with Pedro 'Fofana' Rodriguez snatching an 89th-minute equaliser for the Angolans. The other two Moroccan challengers seem certain to progress, though, with Moghreb Fes taking a 5-1 advantage over Al-Khartoum to Sudan and Difaa al-Jadida a 3-0 cushion against AS Adema to Madagascar.
JS Kabylie of Algeria, the only former African champions in contention with Ismailia and Etoile eliminated, could also be on the way out having received a 3-0 thumping from Missile in Gabon. The 1994 African Cup Winners Cup title holders Daring Club Motema Pembe of Congo DR appear to have the edge over Harras al-Hodoud of Egypt despite a 2-1 reverse in Cairo.
Kaduna and the seven overall winners will play home-and-away ties against CAF Champions League third round losers during May and June with the victors advancing to the group stage.