JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Feb 20 – Zambian club Nkana, home to Kenyan midfielder Duke Abuya, have never lost at home in 64 Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches, but a woeful away record threatens hopes of Confederation Cup progress this weekend.
Having built a 2-0 aggregate lead over Moroccans Tihad Casablanca last Sunday, will that advantage suffice for a club that has lost 16 times, drawn once and never won in north Africa?
At stake for the overall winners of the playoff is a place in the group stage and minimum prize money of $275,000 (Sh28mn).
Here, AFP Sport highlights five of the most intriguing second legs in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
Tihad v Nkana
Nkana coach Kelvin Kaindu is surprisingly upbeat given the disastrous record in north Africa, telling AFP that “victory in Morocco is far from impossible.
“Heavy rain spoilt the first leg and I believe we can more than match Tihad provided the conditions are better and we adopt the correct tactics,” he said.
African debutants Tihad are a second division club who demonstrated their strength at home in the previous round, hammering ESAE from Benin 4-0.
Monastir v Raja
US Monastir secured a Confederation Cup place by winning the Tunisian Cup last year — their first trophy since the club was formed in 1923.
Now they have a chance of toppling an African giant after restricting seven-time CAF title winners Raja Casablanca to a 1-0 victory in Morocco.
To succeed, Monastir must pay special attention to Soufiane Rahimi, the player of the tournament and leading scorer at the recent African Nations Championship (CHAN) won by Morocco in Cameroon.
Rivers v Enyimba
This contest between clubs from cities 64 kilometres (40 miles) apart in southeastern Nigeria is delicately balanced with twice African champions Enyimba holding a 1-0 lead over Rivers United.
A Cyril Olisema goal settled a first leg in which Enyimba finished a man short after Tosin Omoyele was red-carded 15 minutes from time.
It was the first time in five Confederation Cup outings this season that Godwin Aguda failed to score for Rivers, and he is sure to be highly motivated to get back on the goal trail.
Kabylie v Malien
Stade Malien of Mali were the last west African club to win a CAF competition, lifting the Confederation Cup in 2009 after a penalty shootout victory over Entente Setif of Algeria.
Their chances of repeating that feat are slim, however, after managing only a 2-1 win at home to another Algerian club, JS Kabylie.
Mamadou Coulibaly won the first leg through a stoppage-time penalty, taking his African goal tally to four this season, and the chances of Stade surviving could hinge on how well he performs.
Salitas v Bouenguidi
Bouenguidi of Gabon take a 1-0 lead over Salitas of Burkina Faso to Ouagadougou as they attempt to become only the third club from the central African nation to reach the group stage in 20 attempts.
Burkinabe teams have been even less successful in securing a mini-league place with Salitas the first to do so in 2019, 15 years after the competition was launched.
This is a difficult tie to predict after Junior Bayano scored the lone first-leg goal from a penalty and the away-goal rule or a shootout may be needed to separate the sides.