Sudan's football giants face to face in CAF Champions League opener

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-12 22:53:40|Editor: yan
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KHARTOUM, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The Stadium of Sudan's Al-Hilal FC is to host on Friday the Sudanese derby between its football giants Al-Hilal and Al-Merreikh as part of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League's group stage in its new format.

The Sudanese sport street is waiting for the outcome of Friday's match between the country's two football giants which the African draw put them in one group beside ES Sahel of Tunisia and Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique.

Sudan's local sports dailies on Friday attached a great concern to the forthcoming confrontation between the two giants, where their headlines reflected the tone of challenge which remained the major feature of the two clubs' matches.

Al-Hilal's Tunisian head coach Nabil Kouki appeared confident of his team's ability to win the first three points at the opening of group stage at its Stadium in Omdurman city, before flaying to Mozambique to face Ferroviario Beira FC in the second round.

Local media reported Kouki as saying that "we are hundred percent ready for the match and we are confident of achieving the victory. We need our fans to support us and not to stay as spectators."

Meanwhile, local media also quoted Al-Merreikh's head coach, Diego Garzitto, as saying that "we will play the match for victory. We are planing to go far in the African championship."

This would be the 5th confrontation between Al-Hilal and Al-Merreikh in the African competitions, where they have met at the group stage of the African Champion League in 2009 and in the African Confederation Cup in 2012.

Al-Hilal qualified to the CAF Champions League's 16-team stage after defeating AS Port-Louis of Mauritius 5-2 in the first and second legs matches in the 32-team stage, while Al-Merreikh qualified after beating Rivers United FC of Nigeria 4-3 in the two legs of the same stage.

The CAF Champions League's 16-team stage kicks off on Friday in its new format after the amendments made by CAF on the current version of the tournament.

According to CAF's new format of club competitions, the group stage of the annual Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions expands from eight clubs to 16.

After two two-legged qualifying rounds, the 16 Champions League survivors will be split into four groups with clubs playing their three opponents at home and away.

The draw for the groups stage, conducted last April 26 at the CAF headquarters in Egypt, put the Al-Hilal and Al-Merreikh of Sudan, ES Sahel of Tunisia and Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique in Group A. As for Group B, it included USM Alger, Al Ahly Tripolis of Libya, Zamalek of Egypt and CAPS United of Zimbabwe.

Group C brought together Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, Esperance Tunis, AS Vita Kinshasa of Congo and St. George SC of Ethiopia, while, Al-Ahly FC of Egypt, Wydad AC of Morocco, Coton Sport Garoua of Cameron and Zanaco FC of Zambia fell in Group D.