Nkana could live to regret for failing to keep a clean sheet after they allowed Club Sportif Sfaxien to get a crucial away goal in the Confederation Cup quarter-finals first leg yesterday.
With Nkana leading courtesy of Kelvin Mubanga and Freddy Tshimenga’s goals, Habib Oueslati slotted the ball between goalkeeper Kelvin Malunga’s legs for the Tunisians to remain in contention of a semi-final slot.
Nkana need to force a goalless draw in Tunisia while a 1-0 victory on Sunday will be enough for Sfaxien to advance to the last four.
Nkana coach Beston Chambeshi said they are not under pressure following a narrow win that saw the Kitwe giants grab the 61st victory at home in CAF matches.
“There is no pressure. We know where to start from when we go to Tunisia. We have to work our cards well to come out with a good result. I am worried that our players [Walter Bwalya and Tshimenga) came out injured but I have to wait for the medics,” Chambeshi said.
He said they told the players to keep a clean sheet but to no avail. Chambeshi dedicated the win to Nkana legend Simon ‘Stone’ Chibwe, who died last week and was buried on Saturday.
Nkana striker Ronald Kampamba, who had a quiet match, said: “We are very happy we have won and we are looking forward to finishing off Sfaxien in Tunisia.”
Nkana started with intent, with Mubanga trying his luck as early as the third minute when his teasing cross was collected on the line by Sfaxien goalkeeper Ben Hassen.
Mubanga delivered a defence splitting pace on 19 minutes but Kampamba miscued his effort when a tap-in could have handed the hosts the lead.
Midfielder Tshimenga fired high in the 20th minute as Nkana pushed for goals.
Eight minutes later, Sfaxien had a chance to test Malunga but Ben Ali’s free kick was dealt with by the former, who shunted regular Allan Chibwe to the bench.
Mubanga gave Nkana the lead when he beat an offside trap to tap in a Duncan Otieno’s deflected shot on 38 minutes.
Sfaxien skipper Hamza Mathlouthi had a chance to level in the 40th minute but his free kick was collected by Malunga. In the 41st minute, Nkana veteran defender Joseph Musonda made a run on the left flank and crossed the ball which was cleared in Mubanga’s path.
Mubanga beat a defender and unleashed a shot that zoomed over the crossbar. Nkana doubled the lead in the 53rd minute when Tshimenga nodded in Mubanga’s cross.
In search of a big win, Chambeshi withdrew Bwalya for Shadreck Musonda on 59 minutes and introduced Festus Mbewe for Tshimenga 10 minutes later.
Sfaxien boss Rudd Krol responded by bringing in Nour Zamen for Nathir Korichi in the 75th minute. Chambeshi made the final subsititution when he brought in Jacob Ngulube for injured Shadreck Malambo on 76 minutes.
Mubanga missed a chance to bag a brace when his free kick went wide in the 80th minute. The visitors got the important away goal when Ayman Ghadban beat defender Ben Banh on the right flank and laid the ball to Oueslati, who blasted with his left to silence the home crowd.
Sfaxien coach Krol said: “We are happy with the result but not the performance. We were playing against a good team that is physically fit. We have to win our game at home and I am hoping some of the players will be back from injuries. We lost concentration on the goals and that was the weak point in the team. We were not alert enough.
“The return leg we are starting at zero, we have to play 90 minutes. I have lost twice in Zambia [1-0 to Green Buffaloes in the Confederation Cup first round], so it cannot be a good hunting ground for us but scoring outside [away] is always a good thing.”