Al Merreikh Falls In Champions League First Round

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Kano Pillars striker under presure in a domestic encounter
Kano Pillars striker under presure in a domestic encounter

Sudanese champions Al
Merreikh suffered a shock exit from the African Champions League as the seasonal campaigners crashed out in the preliminary round.
They were beaten by Kampala City Council who survived a 2-1 home defeat in the Ugandan capital to qualify 3-2 on aggregate.
“We should have won the game and qualified, but my strikers failed to convert several chances,” said Al Merreikh coach Michael Kruger.
Kampala striker Tony Odur, who scored in the first leg in Omdurman last weekend, gave the hosts a seventh-minute lead with a well-taken goal.
The visitors settled quickly and dictated the pace for long spells before equalising five minutes before half-time as defender William Wadiri’s blunder let Ahmed Elbasha in.
Fifteen minutes from time, Merreikh gave themselves a lifeline they failed to build on when Mohamed Traore followed home after Omar Salim Magoola had saved a penalty.
Since finishing bottom in the group stages in 2009, Al Merreikh have been disappointing in the African Champions League – with this weekend’s failure following on from the first round defeat to Angola’s Recreativo do Libolo last year.
Kampala City Council, meanwhile, will face Nkana Red Devils in the first round after the Zambians defeated Swaziland’s Mbabane Swallows 5-2 as coach Masauso Mwale masterminded a dramatic 5-4 aggregate victory.
The success came despite Swallows’ Zambia-born coach Christopher Tembo having confidently predicted that his side would “not surrender a two-goal advantage.”
Apart from losing a final to Algerians JS Kabylie after a penalty shootout, Nkana – back in the Champions League after a 12-year absence, has reached the semi-finals five times and the quarter, finals three times in 12 previous appearances.
Both Angola’s Kabuscorp and Tanzania’s Young Africans qualified with ease, beating Cote d’Or of the Seychelles 7-2 and Komorozine of the Comores 12-2 on aggregate respectively.
Champions League debutants Barrack Young Controllers of Liberia have realistic chances of making the Last 32 on Sunday, having restricted two-time champions Asante Kotoko to a 2-1 win in Ghana.
Kwabena Edusei converted two penalties but Isaac Pupo netted a free-kick to give Barrack a potentially crucial away goal against opponents who last conquered the continent 31 years ago.