Same old story

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
THE moment Nkana conceded a goal towards the end of the first leg quarter-final match at home against Tunisian side Club Sfaxien, there was genuine fear it was the same old story of Zambian clubs failing to go past North African opposition in continental football.
That turned out to be the case on Sunday when Nkana made the trip to Tunisia.
After winning 2-1 at home, they went on to lose 2-0 to exit the Confederation Cup via a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
Put simply, it was another case of so near, yet so far.
Nkana can argue that they were denied a genuine goal in the match on Sunday which could have changed the complexion of the game. That could be so. But they also made matters difficult for themselves by conceding so early in the match when the plan was to keep it tight at the back and catch the Tunisians on a counter-attack.
But that never happened, and now Zambia will have no representation in the Confederation Cup semi-finals.
Nkana’s failure to win the first leg comfortably is what contributed to their elimination.
Had the Kitwe giants done so, the story could have been different.
It is once again back to the drawing board for whoever will be representing the country in the 2019/2020 inter-club Africa competitions.
The preliminary round will get underway in September this year and investing in quality players is the way to go for those teams that want success. Recruiting players with experience playing continental football will be the ideal situation actually.
Success is not cheap and clubs that qualify for continental competitions should fork out thousands of dollars to lure players that will make a difference.
Days of competing in continental competitions to make up numbers are long gone.
Teams should not take pride in reaching the preliminary or first rounds of the CAF Champions League or Confederation Cup.
If neighbours TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo can win the Champions League five times, it means a Zambian club is equally capable of doing so.
Zambia has two slots in the CAF Champions League and two in the Confederation Cup, which is actually fair representation.
Teams that make progress are assured of making returns on their investments. Despite their elimination in the quarter-finals, Nkana are in a financial windfall.
Zanaco, Lusaka Dynamos, Kabwe Warriors, Zesco United and Red Arrows, who look like having a chance to represent the country in the CAF competitions and are in Stream A of local football, should start planning for continental football.
The same should be said of Stream B; Buildcon, Green Eagles, Nkwazi, Forest Rangers and Power Dynamos.
Nkana, who have five games in hand, could also return to the African stage if they win their matches.
Nkana are lying second from bottom in Stream B with nine points.
Let’s keep interacting on,


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