Friday, September 10
*Express FC (Uganda) 2-1 Al-Merrikh (Sudan)
Express FC beat Sudanese giants Al-Merrikh 2-1 in their first leg of the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
Eric Kambale and Martin Kizza were on target for the Red Eagles while Bakri Abd Elgadir scored an important goal for the Visitors.
Express takes a slender lead in the return leg that will be played in a week-time.
Eric Kambale put the hosts in an early lead with a neat finish to leave the keeper rooted to his line in the eighth finish.
The Red Eagles were punished for poor marking from the corner thanks to a flicked header from Bakri Abd Elgadir header that found its way at the far end.
Godfrey Lwesibawa picked Martin Kizza who bundled home the second for the hosts.
The winner of this tie will advance to the second round to face either Akonangui FC (Equatorial Guinea) or Zanaco FC (Zambia) for a place in the lucrative groups stages of the 2021/22 CAF Champions League.
Job Halfway Done For Red Eagles
With a 2-1 result, Express FC are well aware that the job is far from finished.
But its a result they will take after overcoming a couple of challenges including missing head coach Wasswa Bbosa on the touchline due to lack of CAF A licence and playing at the artificial turf of Kitende.
They put up a mixed performance on the day but could have won by better margin.
Kambale handed the side a dream start when he scored in the sixth minute and the side he almost double the lead minutes later but fumbled when put through by Muzamir Mutyaba in a good build up started by Murushid Juuko.
Juuko will take the blame for that equaliser, shifting the focus to the referee for that corner and he forgot his man marking duties.
Mahad Yaya came close with a long range drive that kissed the crossbar as the side looked to retake the lead.
Despite a poor first half from both Lwesibawa and Kizza, the duo combined for the second goal – Lwesibawa passed to Kizza who neatly bundled in to send the few fans in wild celebrations.
Substitute Joseph Akandwanaho had a chance to head in the third but fluffed his effort wide from Kizza cross.
Al-Merrikh Remains Positive
Al-Merrikh will leave a happier side despite the loss thanks to an away goal at Kitende.
The side, needing at least a 1-0 win, will seek to overturn the deficit when they host the return leg next Friday.
“This is not the result we wanted but an away goal is very important,” said Al-Merrikh assistant coach Anthony Garzito after the game.
“We played under some pressure and we missed a couple of players who were with the Sudan national team. We shall find the solution and we hope to qualify.”
After conceding very early in the game, the visitors remained calm as they built from the back and always benefited from the many spaces Express provided.
Defender Saleheldin Mahmoud Nemer missed a header at near post from a well weighed cross but the side later found an equaliser in the 38th minute.
They were very pedestrian in the second half and it was not a surprise when they conceded a goal later on.
And when it was at 2-1, they looked okay with the result, a thing that was evidenced with their time wasting techniques.
Express XI – Joel Mutakubwa, Enock Walusimbi, Arthur Kiggundu, Isa Lumu, Murushid Juuko, Daniel Shabena, Yaya Kakooza, Godfrey Lwesibawa, Muzamiru Mutyaba, Martin Kizza, Eric Kambale
Substitutes – Denis Otim, Denis Mubuya, Joseph Akandwanaho, Charles Musiige, John Byamukama, Abel Eturude, George Senkaaba, John Byamukama
Al Merrikh XI – Monged Elneel Abuzaid, Ahmed Ahmed, Suliman Amir Kamal, Ahmed Mohamed, Mahmoud Nemer Salaheldin, Musa Mahjoub Dhiya, Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Idris, Elsamani Saadelin, Hussein Nooh Al-Gozoli, Bakri Abd Elgadir, Tony Edjomariegwe Omayarue
Substitutes – Mohamed Mustafa Mohamed, Mohamed Alrashed Mahamoud, Wagdi Awad Abd Alla, Ahmed Hamed Mahmoud, Tajeldin Elnour Badawi, Ahmed Yousif, Abd Elrahman Esihag Hassan