Merrikh leave it late against Inerclube
Ahmed Al-Basha's late strike proved enough for Al Merrikh to earn an opening win at the group phase of the Orange CAF Confederation Cup at the expense of Interclube of Angola.
The encounter held on Saturday at the Al-Merrikh Stadium in the Sudanese city of Omdurman saw the hosts display an unusual start as the collective play of the Angolans made matters difficult for them.
With the game heading for a stalemate, utility player Basha broke the deadlock with a shot from his left foot five minutes from time to seal victory for the “Al Zaeem”.
It was Interclube who started strongly and just after 20 seconds, Antonio Lucio tested veteran goalie Essam El-Hadary from a free-kick with the Egyptian passed the test with little ease. Few minutes later, Merrikh responded, but Basha’s effort from a corner was palmed away by Interclube goalie Mario.
The hosts laboured all through the first half as their midfield of Ramadan Ajab, Basha and Said Mustafa were overpowered by the visitors’ Nuno, Joel and Fabricio. In attack, the Merrikh pair of Zambian Jonas Sakuwaha and Ivorian-import Remi Adiko also found it tough breaking through the Angolans defence.
Against the run of play, Sakuwaha controlled a long pass from his goalie El-Hadary, weaved his way through the visitor’s defence but his final touch missed narrowly.
The Angolans relied on the counter, from which passes to Senegalese Baptista Faye created sleepless nights for the hosts’ rear.
Merrikh introduced Faisal Musa, Nigerian Kelechi Osunwa and veteran Faisal Al Ajab in the second half for Ajab, Adiko and Mustafa respectively in their quest for victory.
Eight minutes to time, the Angolans were gifted a perfect opportunity to take the lead but Faye failed to score after beating onrushing El-Hadary in a one-on-one situation, before Basha fired home the only goal of the match three minutes later and ensure victory for the “Al Zaeem”.
HOSTS COUNTRIES OF NEXT CAF COMPETITIONSOrange CAN 2012
REGULATIONS / PUBLICATIONSCAF Statutes