Sunday Oct 24, 2021. 14:00
Zanaco coach Kelvin Kaindu admits it was always going to be a mountain to climb against Al Merreikh following his teams’ elimination from the 2021/2022 CAF Champions League on Saturday.
The Zambian club beat Al Merreikh of Sudan 2-1 at home in Lusaka on October 23. .
But it wasn’t enough for Zanaco to overturn their 3-0 first leg, away defeat to Al Merreikh on October 16 in Cairo and the Sudanese giants have now progressed to next February’s CAF Champions League group stage with a 4-2 aggregate win.
“It is very painful for you to win but at the end of the day come out as losers,” Kaindu said.
“I think we made our game difficult for ourselves with the three goals that we conceded away.”
But the job became a bridge too far in Lusaka when Al Merreikh scored a fourth goal when Tony Edjomariegwe put his side ahead in the 13th minute.
Emmanuel Manda equalized in the 21 minute for Zanaco while the winning goal came late in the second half through Abraham Siankombo in the 88th minute.
“What also affected our game plan on Saturday was the early goal that we conceded,” Kaindu said.
“I think it made it very, very difficult for us to win this game. We had to work extra hard but at the end of the day I think everyone did their best.”
However, Zanaco have one more shot at league phase qualification following their relegation to the CAF Confederation Cup pre-group play-off round.
Kaindu will know Zanaco’s playoff stage opponents when the draws are made on October 26 in Cairo.
The group playoff stage first leg fixtures are set for the weekend of November 26-28 while the last legs are scheduled for the weekend of December 3-5.