Sofapaka eye a place in history
Sofapaka believe they can pull back three goals against Tunisian visitors Club Africain this weekend and become the first Kenyan qualifiers for the CAF Confederation Cup group phase.
The Nairobi, outfit who staged a heroic second-leg recovery to stun former African champions Ismailia from Egypt in an earlier qualifying round, must win 3-0 on Sunday to take the fourth-round tie into a penalty shootout. Were the Tunisians to score once at Nyayo Stadium in the east African city, Sofapaka would need five goals under the away goal rule to survive, a task that is surely beyond even these never-say-die cup fighters.
Sofapaka have already created history by becoming the first Kenyan team to make the last 16 of the second-tier Confederation of African Football club competition. "When we started out no one believed we could make it to this level. Every hurdle we have overcome has been a success for us," boasted recently appointed coach Francis Kimanzi.
"It is a tall order to overcome Club Africain, but not an impossible one. The Tunisians do not intimidate us tactically or technically. The first leg result was not a true indication of their superiority."
Captain James Situma backs his boss: "Nothing is impossible and hopefully we can produce another stunning victory like we did against Ismailia," said the defender reportedly on the wanted list of an unnamed Albanian club.
Khaled Melliti was the architect of the 3-0 first leg triumph with a goal early in each half for Club, who also changed coaches recently, with former national team handler Faouzi Benzarti replacing Kais Yacoubi. Simba of Tanzania are the other contenders from the east of the continent and have home advantage on Sunday over troubled Daring Club Motema Pembe from Congo DR in a delayed first leg.
Kinshasa-based Pembe sacked Belgian coach Nasreddine Nabi this week because of poor domestic results and his alleged inability to work with two assistants, one of whom has been put in charge for the Dar es Salaam fixture. Nigeria could have two clubs among the last eight with Kaduna United needing to overcome 1-0 away loss against Entente Setif of Algeria and Sunshine Stars hosting Al-Ittihad in a single-game tie because of the Libyan conflict.
ASEC Mimosas of Cote d'Ivoire appear bankers to reach the mini-league stage after walloping Primeiro Agosto of Angola 4-0 in Abidjan through goals from Mangoua Kesse, Irenee N'Doua, Adama Bakayoko and Nigerian Olarenwaju Kayode. JS Kabylie of Algeria, one of four former African champions in the field, are another team set to progress having forced a 1-1 draw with Diaraf in Senegal despite being severely weakened by injuries and suspensions.
Morocco have aleady lost one of three challengers -- title holders FUS Rabat -- and Difaa al-Jadida are in trouble having fallen 3-0 to InterClube in Angola, while Moghreb Fes trail Zambian visitors ZESCO United by one goal.