Sudanese club Al Merrikh stand between Express FC and their hopes of progressing to the play-off round of the Caf Champions’ League Group stages.
The two teams will lock horns with each other in the first round of the continental biggest club competition, whose first-leg will be played at the St. Mary’s stadium, Kitende on Friday 10 September 2021 followed by the return leg a week later in Khartoum.
While the Sudan giants are superior in terms of having experience of doing better in continental competitions, the Red Eagles will be targeting an appearance in the group stages of a major continental competition for the first time.
The two teams have faced each other before in different competitions but not the Caf Champions League though Merrikh has some experience of going against Ugandan clubs at this level, having faced SC Villa, KCCA and Vipers.
Besides meetings in the Cecafa Club Championships (Kagame Cup), they have also faced Express FC in the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup (current Confederation Cup after it merged with CAF Cup).
When it comes to playing against sides from Uganda in Caf competitions, Al Merrikh performance is just fair but not scary as they have been eliminated on four of the previous occasions.
However, they have eliminated Express FC edging all the two ties they have encountered the Red Eagles.
Caf Champions League
The first time Al Merrikh faced a Ugandan side was in 1991 Caf Champions League first round and they were eliminated by SC Villa 8-7 on penalties after drawing 1-1 over two legs.
There was another meeting against The Jogoos in 2002 with Al Merriekh returning the favour winning 4-3 on aggregate.
Villa lost 2-1 away in Khartoum and were held 2-2 at Namboole under the stewardship of Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.
In 2009 and 2014, KCCA faced Al Merrikh in the second and preliminary round respectively and qualified to the next stage at the expense of the Sudan giants 2-1 and 3-2.
And two years ago, Al Merrikh took on Vipers in the preliminary round with the Venoms edging past the Sudan giants.
They lost 2-1 away and won 1-0 at Kitende to make it to the next stage on away goals rule.
African Cup of Winners’ Cup
The first continental meeting between Express and Al Merrikh was in 1992; the latter beating the Red Eagles 2-1 on aggregate in the first round.
There was another meeting the following year and it was a similar result with Al Merrikh winning 3-0 at home and losing 2-0 at Nakivubo and 4-3 on aggregate.
El Merrikh also overcame Mbale Heroes 4-1 on aggregate; winning 2-0 and 2-1 home and away respectively.
In terms of goals, Ugandan sides have scored 15 goals while Al Merrikh have scored 19 goals against clubs from the Pearl.
In a nutshell, Al Merrikh will go into this clash as favourites because of their continental pedigree in comparison to the Red Eagles but Wasswa Bbosa’s men are currently enjoying a decent run and can hurt their opponents.
Summary of Head to Head Stats; Ugandan sides Vs Al Merrikh
Caf Champions League
- 1991- Vs SC Villa 1-0/0-1 Villa won 7-8 on penalties (First Round)
- 2002 – Vs SC Villa 2-1/2-2 Merrikh 4-3 (First Round)
- 2009 – Vs KCCA 1-0/1-1) KCCA through 2-1 (Second Round)
- 2014 – VS KCCA 2-0/1-2 KCCA through 3-2 (Preliminary Round)
- 2019 – Vs Vipers 2-1/0-1 Vipers through 2-2 (Preliminary Round)
African Cup Winners’ Cup
- 1992 – Vs Express FC 1-0/1-1 Al Merrikh through 2-1 (First Round)
- 1993 – VS Express FC 3-0/0-2 Merrikh through 3-2 (First Round)
- 1999 – Vs Mbale Heroes 1-2/2-0 Merriekh through 4-1 (First Round)