ENTENTE SETIF REACH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP PHASE

By NBF News
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Entente Setif reached the group phase of the Champions League after holding holding Zanaco of Zambia to a 2-2 draw.

The Algerians advance to the league stage for the first time on a 3-2 aggregate after Saturday's victory.

Makundika Sakala broke the deadlock on 51 minutes but Nabil Hemani levelled for Setif eight minutes later.

Midfielder Lazhar Hadj Aissa put the visitors in the lead 76 minutes but a late header from Zanaco defender Kennedy Nkethani restored parity.

With the Algerians winning the first leg 1-0, it means the reach the group stage for the first time in the history of the club.

Setif coach Noureddine Zekri was overwhlemed by their advance to the group phase insisting it is his biggest achievement.

“I am very, very happy and I can't say how excited I am to have guided the team to the group stage for the first time ever,” Zekri said.

“It is a big day for me after staying on the job for just four month.”

Zekri says he is confident they can emulate the success they chalked last year when they finished as runners-up in the Confederations Cup.

“We now have chance to see if we can do better than last year and reach the Champions League final and qualify for the first time to the Fifa World Club Cup,” he added.

Zanaco will now drop to the second tier of Africa's club competition to fight for a place in the group phase.

Esperance of Tunisia and Dynamos of Zimbabwe also made it to the last-eight, with less stress than Entente, after drawing at Al-Merreikh of Sudan and Gaborone United of Botswana respectively.

Esperance and Dynamos progressed by 4-1 margins having established three-goal home advantages.

Merreikh, still recovering from the fatal collapse of crack Nigerian striker Endurancer Idahor during a domestic fixture this year, were offered a glimmer of hope against Esperance on the stroke of half-time.

Congolese defender Janvier Besala Bokungu conceded an own goal for the 1994 champions but Wajdi Bouazzi snuffed out any hope of a dramatic second-leg comeback with a 52nd-minute equaliser and a 1-1 stalemate ensued.

Surprise packets Gaborone had boasted they could wipe out a 4-1 Harare hiding, but they never came close and the clash of southern Africa neighbours finished goalless.

There are another five fixtures Sunday with Al-Ahly of Egypt, champions a record six times, fighting for survival in Cairo after losing 2-0 away to Libyan outfit Al-Ittihad .