MAINLAND champions Young Africans were dumped out of the CAF Champions League by Zambia's Zanaco after battling to a barren draw in return leg of the first round held at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia yesterday.
The draw was good enough for the Zambian champions to qualify for the group stage as they progressed on away goal thanks to a 1-1 draw played out in the first leg at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam last Saturday. Yanga will enter the CAF Confederation Cup play-off round where they will play one of the first round winners from that competition.
In the game, Yanga needed to fight bravely away to enter group stage of the continental top tier club championship and to some extent, they put up a spirited performance but were unlucky. The Jangwani Street side also missed out a chance to clinch 550,000.00 US dollars (about 1bn/-) reserved for team that reach group stage of the Champion League.
And it was always going to be a monumental task for George 'Chicken' Lwandamina's side to come out with a positive result away basing on the kind of opponent they were facing. Zanaco started the match on the front foot and were dominant throughout the first half but they were ineffective in front of goal even as they forced eight corners before the break.
The first chance for the home side arrived in the fourth minute when Ernest Mbewe found Augustine Mulenga with a cross from the right flank but the latter's tame effort was saved by the visitors goalkeeper Deogratius Munishi.
Mumamba Numba's men then won three corner kicks inside the opening ten minutes but Yanga's defence was resolute and dealt with everything thrown at them. On fifteen minutes it was Aubrey Chirwa, who had the first chance for the visitors after he was set up by Haji Mwinyi but his close range effort went wide.
On the half hour mark it was Mwinyi who broke on the left beating Bwembya for pace before firing his effort wide. In the second half Zanaco had good early chances, the best of them falling to Attram Kwame but the Ghanaian, who scored the equaliser in the first leg, wasted all of them.
Ernest Mbewe also had good chances from inside the box but his efforts in the 51st and 56th minutes went wide. The last chance of the match fell to substitute Kennedy Musonda who fired wide from close range at the death.
At the end of the match neither side did enough to earn a win, but it was Zanaco who celebrated as they progressed to the group stage on away goals. Zanaco assistant coach Dabid Chilufya said he was happy that his team had reached the group stage, although he was unhappy that his team had only managed to score two goals in four matches. "We have done well in reaching the group considering that several of our key players left the club during the off season.
Getting to the group stage is a plus for us because we will play in a mini-league which will give us ample time to prepare and for some of our new players to adapt to our system of play," said Chilufya.
And Young Africans coach George Lwandamina said playing in the Confederation Cup play-off round was a chance for his team to come back stronger and progress to the group stage in the second tier inter-club continental competition.
"We played well in this match; in fact neither side had any advantage. Both teams played with a lot of positivity unfortunately we are the ones who have bowed out because our opponents scored an away goal. "Dropping to the Confederation Cup is a chance for us to put our act together and for us to work even harder so that we do not just end up in the group stage but beyond," said Lwandamina.
The date for the draw for the champions league group stage has not yet been announced but the first round of the matches will be played during the weekend of 12-14 May.
Meanwhile, another country's envoys Azam FC today face Mbabane Swallows in the CAF Confederation Cup second leg, first round at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Mbabane.
Having a 1-0 victory advantage of the first leg held in Dar es Salaam, Azam need any kind of draw to qualify into the play off stage that will determine which teams will qualify into the group stage of the continental second tier club championship.