El-Merreikh top group A

Hosts El Merreikh hit Kenya’s Mathare United 1-0 to take firm control of Group A as they completed the preliminary matches of the Cecafa Club Cup tournament with unbeaten run last Saturday.

El Merreikh finished with hundred percent record while chalking maximum nine points, three better than second-placed Mathare.

Atraco from Rwanda finished third, thanks to a 5-0 victory over Kartileh from Djibouti in an earlier match.

While Merreikh and Mathare had confirmed their quarter final slots ahead of their encounter, Atraco have to wait for results of the other Group matches in Khartoum and Port Sudan scheduled later yesterday.

Mathare were impressive and should have killed the match in the first half but paid the price for profligate finishing.

They missed clear-cut chances in the first half through poor shooting by Andrew Oyombe and Titus Mulama.

Merreikh had their first opportunity on half hour but Mathare goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng’ twice saved efforts by Nigerian import Indurance Idahor.

The home side grabbed the winner after 44 minutes when veteran captain Faisal Ajab headed home Osunwa Klechi’s floating cross.

Merreikh coach Radan Jacknet blamed his side’s poor showing early in the match to lack of tight marking.

“We played with too much space between the players allowing Mathare a lot of opportunities,” he responded in a post match interview.

“We possessed the ball better in the second half and in the process managed to contain Mathare which I must say is a good quality side.”

His Mathare counterpart Francis Kimanzi said he was happy that the match had left his boys satisfied and motivated.

“The result does not reflect the true picture of the 90 minutes but I must say, in the end the Merreikh dominated in terms of quality,” he said.

Kimanzi, a former Kenya tactician, said he looks to the quarters with high hopes promising a better display.

Atraco coach Sam Timbe attributed his team’s victory to stability in the camp.

“We have had problems that saw us lose our opening two matches but that is now behind us,” he said.

On the long wait before knowing their fate, the Ugandan national said it was better than knowing they are out.

Atraco went into the match forcefully with captain Jean Shyaka denied by the woodwork in the 20th minute.

Shyaka made amends after two minutes later when he set wide open the floodgates.

Hamisi Kitagenda made it two in the 47th minute before Abedi Mulenda slotted home a penalty for the third goal, a minute later.

Kitagenda was on target in the 50th minute before Johnson Bongoole made it five in the 67th minute.

Said Moussa, the Kartileh tactician, was happy that his boys had had the chance to test international matches after their mainden appearance in the Khartoum tournament.

“It has been a good learning tour for us and we promise to come back much fitter and stronger next year,” he said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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