Sudanese club football powerhouses Al Hilal and Al Merreikh
switch their rivalry to the African stage this weekend with a CAF
Confederation Cup matchday 2 clash.
The Omdurman showdown is a top-of-the-table Group A game after
Hilal won 2-1 away to another Sudanese side, Al Ahly Shandy, two
weeks ago while Merreikh snatched a 1-0 victory over Angolan
It is the third time the Omdurman neighbours have confronted each
other in a CAF competition with Hilal winning 3-1 at home and
drawing 0-0 away in 2009 Champions League matches.
Although silverware has eluded perennial African challengers
Hilal, Merreikh went all the way in 1989 when they defeated
Bendel United of Nigeria 1-0 overall to lift the now defunct
African Cup Winners Cup.
Both teams mix local and African talent with the Hilal squad
including stars from Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and
Zimbabwe while Merreikh contain imports from Egypt, Ivory Coast,
Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia.
The best known is Merreikh goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary, a key
figure in the record three consecutive Africa Cup of Nations
titles won by Egypt during the past decade.
Now in the twilight of a successful career as he approaches 40,
Al Hadary knows all about success in Africa having helped Cairo
club Al Ahly win several Champions League titles.
While Hilal and Merreikh seek maximum points and a three-point
advantage in the mini-league, Al Ahly Shandy make the long
journey to Angola for a meeting of matchday 1 losers with
The Angolan police team, who reached the 2011 Confederation Cup
semi-finals, held Merreikh for 86 minutes before losing to an
Ahmed El Basha goal and are likely winners in Luanda.
Highlight of Group B will be the meeting of two clubs who have
lifted Pan-African trophies -- 1992 Champions League winners
Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and 2009 Confederation Cup winners
Stade Malien of Mali.
Hosts Wydad launched their campaign by holding giantkillers AC
Leopards 1-1 in Congo Brazzaville while Stade suffered a shock
2-0 home defeat by fellow Malians Djoliba in Bamako.
Djoliba stay at home for a fixture against Leopards, whose
victims en route to the group phase included two-time
Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia and title holders
Moghreb Fes of Morocco.