CafCC preview: Zamalek face Hassania Agadir as Nkana look to banish poor away form against Sfaxien

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Gor Mahia striker Jacques Tuyisenge v Zamalek
Goal Kenya.
The battle to reach the Caf Confederation Cup semi-finals reaches the final push with quarter-final second leg matches on Sunday

Zamalek welcome back midfielders Ferjani Sassi and Mahmoud Kahraba from injury as they prepare to host Hassania Agadir in the Caf Confederations Cup quarter-final, second leg match on Sunday.

The duo missed the reverse fixture which ended 0-0 away in Morocco last weekend.

Zamalek coach Christian Gross will have his selection options increased by the return of Tunisian midfielder Sassi and Kahraba, who both have been enjoying a good season with the Egyptian giants.

A win for Zamalek will see them enhance their chances of winning the first silverware in African competitions since 2003, when they won the Caf Super Cup.

“There is a big game awaiting us in Cairo,” Gross was quoted as saying by SuperSport.

“Our goal in the second leg is very clear, which is to grab the win to continue our journey in the Confederations Cup.”

However, defender Hazem Emam has not been included in the squad due to injury while Gross dropped Ayman Hefni for tactical reasons.

Zamalek's opponents Hassania Agadir are in the Caf Confederation Cup quarter-finals for the first time, and reaching the semi-finals would be adding a cap in this already history-making season. 

A scoring draw would be enough to send Hassania Agadir into the last four.

Argentine coach Miguel Gamondi has admitted that they will not have it easy against the Egyptian heavyweights.

“We are waiting for a historic game against Zamalek. We are determined to continue our journey in the Confederations Cup,” said Gamondi.

“However, it is going to be a difficult task. We didn’t have the chance for a good preparation for the game due to having a midweek game in the league. Despite that we are ready for the Zamalek encounter.”

Elsewhere, Nkana and Club Sportif Sfaxien battle it out at the Stade Taieb Mhiri with the Zambian visitors going into this tie carrying a 2-1 lead from the first leg.

Nkana will be without star forward Walter Bwalya and midfielder Fred Tshimenga, who scored one of the goals in their first leg win last weekend.

Bwalya is out with a problematic knee while Tshimenga is nursing a foot injury.

While Nkana have been impressive at home in this competition, they have been awful away and their poor form on the road could be their undoing on Sunday.

Coach Beston Chambeshi is aware that their form in opposition territory but believes they will get it right in Sfax.

“Everything is fine. We beat Sfaxien in the first leg so why should there be pressure on us? I admit the team have been poor travellers this season but we will solve that problem,” SuperSport quoted Chambeshi as saying.

While Nkana are battling against the demons of poor away form, Sfaxien are unbeaten at home this season and are banking on their good performances in front of their supporters to spur them on on Sunday.

Habib Oueslati’s away goal for Sfaxien in the reverse leg could count against Nkana who need at least a draw to advance to the quarter-finals.

Sfaxien are gunning for their fourth Caf Confederation Cup title, with the last one arriving in 2013.

Interestingly, Dutchman Ruud Krol was also the Tunisians’ coach when they last won the Confederation Cup.

“I was the coach when Sfaxien won the Confederation Cup a third time six years ago and it is great to be in contention for the title once again,” Krol said.

In another quarter-final, return fixture, Renaissance Sportive Berkane are looking to finish off Gor Mahia at Stade Municipal de Berkane.

The Moroccans go into this tie with a huge advantage after winning 2-0 away in Nairobi last weekend.

It would be a tough task for Gor Mahia’s Turnish coach Hassan Oktay, who returns to the bench after watching the first leg from the terraces while serving a one-match suspension.

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Also back for Gor Mahia is defender Harun Shakava who was suspended for the home leg as well.

But chief Jacques Tuyisenge is still suspended together with Earnest Wendo, who received a straight red card in their last group match against Petro Atletico.

Berkane’s Togolese forward Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba is expected to lead his team’s attack.