CAF Champions League
Express FC 2-1 Al Merriekh
St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende
Friday, September 10
Express FC took a first leg advantage in their CAF Champions League first-qualifying-round tie against Sudanese side Al Merriekh thanks to a 2-1 victory at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Kitende on Friday, September 10.
Eric Kambale and Martin Kizza both scored once either side of Bakri Elgadir’s leveller to ensure the Red Eagles register a winning return to the competition, one they have not featured in since 1997.
It was a contest which saw Express head coach Wasswa Bbosa bared from the touchline due to lack of qualifications with Simon Kirumira taking charge, instead.
Just like it has become the norm under Bbosa, the Red Eagles started brightly with Kambale lashing onto Kizza’s headed pass and calmly netting past Elneel Abuziad in the visitors’ goal.
Al Merriekh had a glorious opportunity to level matters, moments later, but Tony Omayarue headed wide Elsamani Saadelni’s delivery from a freekick.
Mahad Yaya Kakooza who started alongside Daniel Shabena in midfield thought he had doubled the lead for the Red Eagles but his effort from outside the box, brushed off the woodwork and out for just a goal kick.
Elgadir who had always looked a threat running in behind the Express back-line found space in the area to head-in the equalizer off Saadelni’s corner kick, six minutes to the break.
Fourteen minutes after the recess, Kizza scored what would turn out to be the winner as he raced onto Lwesibawa’s well-weighted-pass to slot-in past Elneel at the far post.
Substitute Joseph Akandwanaho could have doubled Express’ advantage going into the second leg but headed wide Kizza’s teasing cross with the game heading for a close.
Both sides will face off once again on September 18 in the second leg in Sudan.
The winner between the two will face either Akonangui of Equatorial Guinea or Zambia’s ZANACO in the second qualifying round, next month.