Caf Confederation Cup preview: Zesco, Nkana clash in Copperbelt derby, Etoile and Sfaxien resume rivalry

The Caf Confederation Cup group stage action kicks off with Zambian giants Zesco and Nkana clashing, while Etoile face Tunisian rivals Sfaxien

Zambian heavyweights Zesco United and Nkana FC open their Group C campaign at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Sunday.

Dubbed the Copperbelt derby, matches between these sides have always been stormy contests, and the Confederation Cup meeting comes eight days after they crossed swords in the Zambian Charity Shield.

Nkana won the Charity Shield 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

After resting the striking duo of Lazarus Kambole and Kenya international Jesse Were, who came on late, in the Charity Shield, Zesco coach George Lwandamina is expected to start the two on Sunday.

On the opposite side Nkana skipper Walter Bwalya is back after sustaining a foot injury in the play-off second leg away at Ivorian side San Pedro.

That is good news for Nkana coach Beston Chambeshi, who also has Ronald Kampamba.

Elsewhere, another domestic affair will also be underway in Tunisia when Etoile du Sahel host CS Sfaxien at Stade Olympique de Sousse in a Group B showdown.

Led by some of the most revered coaches in Africa, Etoile would be under the tutelage of veteran Frenchman Roger Lemerre, while Sfaxien are under the guidance of Dutchman Ruud Krol.

Etoile welcome back chief striker Amine Chermiti, who resumed training this week after recovering from injury and winger Yassine Chikhaoui is also returning from injury.

What could be more worrisome for Sfaxien is that the Etoile defence has been steely of late, conceding just a goal in their last four games that included beating Raja Casablanca away in the Arab Club Champions Cup.

Etoile goalkeeper Makram Bdiri has also been in standout form and is likely to put Sfaxien attackers on a stern test.

Sfaxien new signings Aymen Hassine, Algerian Nadhir Kouraichi and Mohamed Ben Ali could make their debut.

The midfield trio of Nigerian Kingsley Sokari, Alaeddine Marzouki and Ivorian Chris Kouakou are back from injury and could boost Sfaxien’s engine room.

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In Algiers, NA Hussein Dey welcome Angolan giants Petro Atletico in a Group D encounter.

Petro travelled to Algeria without captain Job, who has a back injury and midfielder Alem was also left behind with an ankle injury.