Caf Confederation Cup preview: African Stars stalk Raja Casablanca, Zamalek host Ittihad Tanger and Nkana look to finish off San Pedro

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The battle to reach the Caf Confederation Cup group stages enters the final phase this weekend with the second leg matches on the cards

Defending champions Raja Casablanca may have forced a 1-1 draw away at African Stars last weekend but they will need to be at their best when they host the Namibians in the second leg on Sunday.

Although they enjoy the advantage of an away goal, the Moroccans welcome African Stars knowing very well that the deficit is within reach.  

That draw gave African Stars coach Bobby Samaria confidence of pulling off a giant-killing act in Marrakech.

“We did exceptionally well against all the odds against Raja last Saturday. Because of their pedigree, no one gave us a chance, but pedigree is one thing, and playing the game is another. We played hard, with a bit of a chip on our shoulder, and it showed,” Samaria was quoted as saying by The Namibian.

“We will now go to Marrakech and represent Namibia to the best of our ability. Obviously, we want to win, and we are going into the game with that mentality, to win the match and qualify for the group stages of the competition.”

Raja Casablanca

Before being relegated to the Confederation Cup, African Stars made Orlando Pirates sweat in the Caf Champions League, and the South Africans had to sneak into the group stages with a slim 1-0 aggregate win.

However, Raja will bank on their vast experience in Africa with the evergreen Soufiane Rahimi one of the players expected to shine.

Rahimi was on target to salvage the draw in Windhoek last weekend while Alfeus Handura found the back of the net for African Stars.

Elsewhere at the Borg El Arab Stadium on Saturday, another African giant Zamalek will have to overcome the challenge of Ittihad Tanger following a goalless draw in Morocco in the reverse fixture.

Tanger arrives in Alexandria knowing very well that they have a real chance of progressing to the group stage of the Confederation Cup.

A scoring draw would be enough to see Tanger through to the group phase.

But Zamalek coach Christian Gross has already set sights beyond this match, with his focus being on winning the tournament.

"We will do our best in Alexandria to win and reach the group stage. Our target is nothing but the trophy itself, but we have to take every game at a time", Gross told Cafonline.

Christian Gross, Tottenham

Zamalek are in top form in the Egyptian Premier League with wingers Mahmoud Abdel Menaim and Youssef Ibrahim enjoying some fine form and translating that form into the Confederation Cup could be key for them.

Omar El Said is expected to fill in the shoes of the Congolese striker who recently left Zamalek for Saudi Arabia.

In Luanda, Angolan giants Petro Atletico would be banking on the away goal they grabbed when they drew 1-1 with Stade Malien away in Bamako last weekend.

Petro Atletico striker Felix Antonio Va has been enjoying some rich vein of form that has seen him being the chief target man.

A place in the group stage would be guaranteed for the Angolans if they manage to restrict Stade Malien from scoring.

Petro Atletico de Luanda

Also, one of the more impressive performers Nkana of Zambia, are in Ivory Coast to tackle San Pedro on Sunday while boasting of what appears to be a healthy 3-0 advantage from the first leg.

Nkana coach Beston Chambeshi has dropped Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba from the squad that travelled to Ivory Coast, with the midfielder having played in the first leg where he was substituted and refused to shake the hand of his coach.

Veteran 41-year-old defender Joseph Musonda made the trip after he was one of the scorers in the thumping of San Pedro.

Meanwhile, Vipers visit Tunisian side CS Sfaxien for Sunday's tie with coach Michael Ouma is drawing inspiration from his side’s 4-0 demolition of Kansai Plascon to reach the Uganda Cup round of 16.

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Dan Sserunkuma of Vipers FC Uganda.

“Of course it was important to win ahead of the return leg against CS Sfaxien because it gives us motivation but I don’t want to compare two teams on different levels,” Ouma was quoted as saying by Kawowo.

The reverse fixture between Vipers and Sfaxien ended goalless.

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