Friday, September 10
*Express FC (Uganda) Vs Al-Merrikh (Sudan) – 4pm
Express FC play host to Sudanese giants Al-Merrikh on Friday in the first leg of the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
The return leg will be played in a week-time, with the winner of this tie advancing 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.
The Red Eagles are hosting at St Mary’s Stadium (home of Vipers) because its the only stadium in the country with the required CAF standards at the moment.
Express FC make a long awaited return to the continent after a 24-year wait!
- Express FC are set to welcome back winger Godfrey Lwesibawa who missed the semi and final of the CECAFA Kagame Cup
- They have added CAF A licensed coach Simon Peter Kirumira to the ranks for CAF duties as Bbosa does not have the required qualifications
- The club is yet to get clearance from CAF on the usage of new signings Deus Bukenya and Nicholas Kasozi, per press time.
- Al Merrikh will be without defender Amir Kamal
- Striker Ramadan Agab Shareif is a doubt having picked a knock on National team duty as Sudan lost 2-4 to Guinea Bissau, but traveled with the team
On-form Red Eagles Seek First Leg Advantage
Express FC will be hoping nothing but victory in the first leg at Kitende to have a chance of advancing to the next round.
They will be banking on recent success that saw the side win the league and CECAFA Kagame Cup this year.
“This is a big game for all of us as a club,” said club coach Wasswa Bbosa who recently extended his contract for another year.
“Every Express FC fan has been dreaming about returning to the continent and here we are.”
Bbosa, as quoted by the club media, said that they have been preparing for the tie since returning from Dar Es Salam where they won the CECAFA Kagame Cup.
He added: “I can assure that we are ready for Al-Merrikh because we know they are an experienced side especially on the continent but we shall give it our all and try to kill the game from here.”
The hosts will seek to break barriers and join KCCA FC as the other Ugandan side to have made it to the groups of the CAF Champions League in its current format.
Coach Bbosa will bank on star player Eric Kambale but the returning trio of Joel Mutakubwa, Enock Walusimbi and Murushid Juuko will form the club’s rock as the side seek to win with a clean sheet.
Al-Merrikh Here for Business
The Sudanese giants have had close to a week-long stay in the country as they seek to acclimatise for the conditions in the country.
After their arrival at Entebbe International Airport, the team has been accommodated at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Hotel.
They had some warm up drills on Monday evening at the pitch near the hotel.
The side held their first session on Tuesday at KCCA FC’s Omondi Stadium in Lugogo before two sessions on Wednesday and Thursday in Kitende.
In between, they were visited by a delegation from the Sudanese Embassy in Uganda headed by Chargé d’Affairs Mr. Mujahid Abdul Rahman who offered words of encouragement to the team.
The side will be riding on their vast experience to get the job done.
They beat Vipers last season 1-0 in both legs home and away and will use this as their source of motivation.
After that Vipers win, Al-Merrikh then went on to beat Nigeria’s Enyimba to storm the CAF Champions League group stages.
That was the second time they had made the groups in five years.
They finished second behind Al Hilal in the Sudan Premier League last season to earn a ticket back on the continent.
Al-Merrikh who have won 16 Sudan league titles, reached the semifinals of the CAF Champions League in 2015.
- Express FC have lost only twice – against Bright Stars and UPDF FC – this year in all competitions
- This will be the first time Express FC plays on the continent since falling to CAPS United of Zimbabwe in 1997.
- Al-Merrikh have lost six times this year, including five on the continent.
- Their last CAF Champions League encounter was a 3-1 away loss to AS Vita of DR Congo in April this year.
- This will be the sixth meeting between Express and Al Merrikh, with the Sudanese side having won four, drawn once and lost the other.
Express FC – Joel Mutakubwa, Enock Walusimbi, Arthur Kiggundu, Issa Lumu, Murushid Juuko, Abel Eturude, Mahad Yaya Kakooza, John Byamukama, Martin Kizza, George Ssenkaaba, Eric Kambale
Al Merrikh – El Mustafa, Hamza Dawood, Adeleye Aniyikaye, Salah Nimir, Hamza Dawood, Ammar Taifour, El Sammani, Wajdi Awad, Tony Edjo, Azzam Adil, Al Jazouli Noah
How To Watch
- The game will be played without fans due to Covid19 restrictions.
- Sanyuka TV (StarTimes) have confirmed acquiring TV rights for the match
- You can as well follow live updates from The-SportsNation social media pages.