CAF Confederation Cup: Defending champions RS Berkane crash out of group stage

TOPSHOT - This picture shows the trophy prior to the draw of the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Confederation cup at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cairo on December 28, 2018. (Photo by MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images)

Defending champions RS Berkane crashed out of this season’s CAF Confederation Cup in the group stage after suffering a shock defeat away to Zambian side NAPSA Stars on Wednesday.

The Moroccan side, who finished the game with 10 men, lost 1-0 as Doisy Soko’s goal eight minutes into the second half sent them tumbling out in the competition.

FILE PHOTO: A picture of the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Confederation Cup trophy. (Photo credit MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images)

Berkane’s shock loss coupled with JS Kabylie’s 2-1 win away to Cotonsport saw the Algerian side qualify for the knockout stage.

Two goals in five minutes from Rida Bensayah and Walid Bencherifa gifted the Algerian side a two-goal lead midway through the second half after the hosts had been reduced to 10 men. Francis Tombi Alemi pulled one back late in the game for Cotonsport but it proved to be a mere consolation.

The win catapulted JS Kabylie to the top of Group B on nine points ahead of Cotonsport, who also have nine points but are second due to an inferior head-to-head record.

RS Berkane is third with five points while NAPSA Stars prop up the table a further point behind.

Last season’s beaten finalists Pyramids F.C. booked their place in the quarterfinals after securing a win away against Nkana F.C.

The Egyptian side defeated the Zambian side 1-0 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola with Abdalla Bekhit scoring the only goal with 12 minutes of normal time left.

The win guaranteed Pyramids’ passage into the knockout phase from Group D as the Egyptian side, despite being three points clear of Nkana with one game left, has a better head-to-head record having won both of their matches.

The other group match saw 2018 champions Raja Casablanca thump Namungo 3-0. First-half goals from Ilias Haddad, Fabrice Ngoma and Zakaria Habti gave the Moroccan side a fifth straight victory in the group, during which they have not conceded a single goal.

It also confirmed that Raja, who have 15 points, will finish top of the group ahead of Pyramids. Nkana is third with six points while Namungo is yet to pick up a single point.

Elsewhere, two-time winners Étoile Sportive du Sahel were also eliminated after falling to a 1-0 defeat to Senegal’s Jaraaf.

Papa Paye netted the all-important goal for the Senegalese side who went top of Group C and also booked their place in the next round.

Joining them in the next round are three-time champions CS Sfaxien who defeated Salitas F.C. 2-0 with Firas Chaouat and Kingsley Eduwo scoring in each half.

Jaraaf leads the way with 10 points followed by CS Sfaxien on nine points and Étoile Sportive du Sahel on five points and Salitas on three points.

Orlando Pirates edged closer to qualification for the quarterfinals after playing out a goalless draw with ES Setif in Johannesburg.

The South Africans, runners-up in 2015, remained unbeaten and lead Group A with nine points while ES Setif is third with five points. Second-placed Enyimba, who have six points, are yet to play Al Ahly Benghazi who lie in fourth place with four points.

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