By MICHAEL MIYOBA
ZANACO’S journey in the CAF Champions league came to an end after suffering a 1-0 loss to Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in the last Group D fixture played on Saturday night at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca.
A 68th-minute goal from Achraf Bencharki after a defensive lapse by the Zanaco defence gave Wydad a 1-0 win over 10-man Zanaco before a near-capacity crowd in the 80,000-seat Casablanca stadium.
Zanaco began the match cautiously and were able to keep the Moroccans from finding the back of the net despite having Wydad having a bigger share of ball position in the first half.
Bencharki however stunned the Zambian league champions as he pounced on a rebound when he turned and fired a low shot into the back of the net seconds after his first attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata.
Zanaco, who suffered a setback 10 minutes into the second half when defender Taonga Bwenbya was sent off having been given a second yellow card of the night.
The win over Zanaco escalated Wydad to the summit of Group D with 12 points, one point better than record eight-time African champions Al Ahly and Zanaco
Coton Sport of Cameroon anchors Group D after finishing pointless after suffering six straight losses in Group D.
Despite having been eliminated, the Zambian champions had the same points with Group D second-placed Al Ahly who concluded the group with 11 points with an identical head-to-head records after battling to goalless draws on two occasions the two teams met in Alexandria and Lusaka.
The loss in Morocco was Zanaco’s first Champions League loss this season and only the third goal they conceded after four wins and five draws in qualifying and group matches.
Meanwhile, record eight-time CAF Champions Lleague winners Al Ahly came from behind to beat Cotton Sport 3-1 to progress to the last eight of Africa’s most prestigious club tournament.