Hosts Al Merreikh Al Fasher through to Cecafa semis

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jun 27, 2013
  • Ports FC from Djibouti in white during their match against Rayon of Rwanda.(Photo:CECAFA)

There was outrageously wild jubilation when home team Al Merreikh Al Fasher recovered from the dead, saved a game with a last-gasp header, then went on to win a post-match penalty shoot-out and reach the semifinals of the Cecafa Kagame Club Cup.

Al Merreikh won an epic battle with another Sudan side, the experienced Al Ahly of Shandy City in Nile State to the north of the country.

The match venue, El Nuggaa stadium, right in the middle of El Fasher, was packed to suffocating levels and hundreds were held outside the stadium when there was absolutely no space for them inside.

The home team were complete underdogs on paper but clearly riding on unbelievable passion of a united city that had never hosted foreign sportsmen before.

Al Merreikh conceded a 62nd minute goal, a corner headed in by Nadir El Tayeb, but doggedly attacked to score in the last action of the match, a super header by second half substitute Mubarak Ishaq who converted a long punt from the El Merreikh right full back Abdelrahman Kaya.

When it came to the penalty shoot-out, brilliant goalkeepers from both sides made spectacular saves and it was Al Merreikh who nicked it 3-2 to send the entire town in a frenzy.

Wild celebrations and dignitaries joined into a protracted carnival that took centre stage on a jam-packed pitch. The sea of people were intent on carrying on till dark.

El Fasher streets could barely hold the multitudes amid blaring horns from cars, vuvuzelas and raucous noise. Earlier, three-time champions APR of Rwanda skillfully subdued Express of Uganda in the second half to score an emphatic 2-0 victory.

Another epic match is expected on Friday when APR confront Al Merreikh in the semi-finals. Thursday’s quarter finals are: Vital’O (Burundi) v Ports (Djibouti) Rayon Sport (Rwanda) v URA (Uganda)