ZESCO United is still in contention for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League semi-final place after they drew 2-2 with Al Ahly of Egypt on Friday night at Suez Stadium in Cairo.
Jesse Were put Zesco ahead in the fifth minute when he headed in a Jackson Mwanza cross. But Ramy Rabia leveled matters for Ahly in the 31st minute before Were scored his second three minutes later to restore the lead.
Zesco looked set for victory until substitute Emad Moteab equalized in the 85th minute.
The Zambian League Champions currently lead Group A on eight points while Ahly is third on five, but circumstances may change according to tonight’s results in a game between Wydad Casablanca of Morocco with seven points and Ivorian side Asec Mimosas who have four.
Zesco hosts Casablanca on August 23 at Ndola’s Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in a final group match which will decide their fate.
Coach George Lwandamina said the players lost concentration in the second half, thereby conceding the vital goal.
“I knew it would be a difficult game as Ahly were playing at home and were in desperate need of the three points. We knew they had slow defenders so we gave them room to attack, and then capitalize on the counter. Our plan was to get an early goal which we got.
‘‘We have not qualified yet as we still have our last match to play at home. The attitude of the players was positive. They fought hard but conceded two goals from set pieces after going to bed,” Lwandamina said.
Ahly coach Martin Jol blamed the team’s draw to lack of key players nursing injuries.
“It was a tough match and we played without many key players such as Waild Soliman, Ahmed Hegazy, and John Antwi amongst others who are injured. Also the players are fatigued after playing after every three days for the last few weeks.
‘‘We dominated and created some good chances but could not score. Our performance declined in the first half but improved in the second half.
‘‘Luck was not on our side. We are in a difficult situation but my players have performed well and will fight till the end. Resignation is not on my mind; the target is to qualify for the final. It is up to the management to decide on that,” he said.