By NDINAWE SIMPELEWE in Alexandria, Egypt -
Smouha 1 Zesco 1
ZESCO United coach Zlatko Krmpotic believes his side can reach the final of the CAF 2017 Confederation Cup after playing to draw against Smouha in the Group C match at the Borg el Arab Stadium in Alexandria.
The Zambian side missed the chance to go top of group C at least for 24hrs after giving away 1-0 lead to return home with a draw and will need to beat Al Hilal Obayed in the last game of the group to ensure qualification to the quarter finals.
Obayed who are in danger of being ejected from the competition due to FIFA’s suspension of their FA will play Recreativo do Libolo today.
They currently lead the group on seven points same with Zesco but with a superior goal aggregate while Libolo is third on six points and Smouha who have been eliminated have five points.
In a post match interview, Krmpotic said the draw had given his side a big chance to progress to the next round and praised his side’s discipline against a good Smouha side.
He said he had always believed in Zesco progressing all the way to the final but will be cautious to take a step at a time.
Krmpotic said he was not satisfied with the 1-1 draw because his side was denied a win by what he described as a dubious penalty awarded to Smouha by Rwandan referee
“After the game I’m not satisfied. Before the game if someone gave me one point, it is ok but now after what has happened, I’m not satisfied. My team played with disciplined and played very good but the referee gave something (penalty). I don’t want to speak about the referee. We want to concentrate on the next game,” Krmpotic said.
Smouha coach Moamen bemoaned his team’s failure to convert the chances they created saying lack of experience cost the young side a place in the semi final. He however expressed happiness with the way the team accounted itself against experienced sides in the group.
“Our team did what it had to do but it was not enough. We played a very organised game but we missed the final touch. We have to create a lot chances for us to score goals. We created a lot chances and if we miss them we get punished,” Moamen said.
Both sides played a cautious game first half with very few opportunities.
Smouha were first to threaten in the fourth minute when a good interchange of passes at the edge of the box ended with Ahmed Sayed shooting wide, the Jesse Were released Dave Daka in the 10th minute and despite a good run the midfielder saw his square pass blocked for a corner.
Five minutes later John Ching’andu and Were combined well but the latter’s shot was blocked by the defense while at the other end Jacob Banda showed some nerves when he almost gave away the ball despite having enough time to clear but ended up giving away a throw in in the 17th minute.
The game sparked into life in the second when Jacob Banda tipped off off yAhmed Adam’s brilliant header for a corner in the 59th minute.
But it was Zesco who opened the scores in the 83rd minute when Were beat a defender before his shot was blocked by Hossam Hassan which rebounded off Yasser Ahmed for an own goal.
But five minutes later Smouha equalised through a penalty converted by Diawara after David Odhiambo was juded to have brought down Mahmoud Husse in the box.