By James Bakama
CAF Champions League
Al-Merrikh 0 KCCA 2
KCCA v Al-Merrikh (Namboole)
“I told you we could do it,” coach George Nsimbe said after KCCA pulled off one of the biggest CAF Champions League upsets at the weekend.
While KCCA’s win in Khartoum got many by surprise, Nsimbe was to the contrary always confident his troops could ambush the Sudanese giants.
So, when KCCA indeed went on to triumph in the desert, Nsimbe stood out as a tactician of excellence.
KCCA, who lost 2-1 on aggregate to the same opposition in 2009, return today to start preparing for Saturday’s return leg at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole that should be sweet revenge.
Nsimbe’s confidence was in Khartoum mirrored in his team as it defended and attacked as a unit, a quality that paid off with not only two glorious goals, but also a penalty save.
Brainy striker Herman Wasswa was the first to score in the 24th minute before Tony Odur stretched the lead to the shock of the home crowd.
It could have actually been a bigger win if some of KCCA’s efforts hadn’t ended on the woodwork.
But the hosts, coached by German Michael Kruger, also had their moments with striker Mohammed Abdulmunem causing trouble though his final touch was always bad.
Goalkeeper Salim Magoola on one of these occasions in the second half, pulled off a save angering the home fans, who not only started hurling insults at the team but also walked out in protest.
At the end of the day, there was little to show that Al-Merrikh had come into the match with an impressive build-up with matches against Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg and world club champions Bayern Munich.
KCCA’s appearance in the Mapinduzi Cup, where the Lugogo side emerged champions, plus the Africa Nations Championship outing for some of Nsimbe’s players, at the end of the day proved more beneficial.
KCCA in driving set
KCCA can now afford even a loss by a goal to qualify for the penultimate stage to the lucrative group stages.
Should KCCA advance, they will face the winner between Swaziland’s Mbabane Swallows and Zambia’s Nkana Red Devils.
In the other games in the region, Tanzania’s Young Africans whipped Comoros side Komorozine 7-0 in Dar es Salaam, while Kenyan champions Gor Mahia defeated Gabonese team US Bitam 1-0 with Uganda Cranes striker Dan Sserunkuma scoring the lone goal.
Fifty-two clubs will be involved in the preliminary round to be join by holders Al Ahly (Egypt), Coton Sport (Cameroon), TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Hilal (Sudan), CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) and Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia) at the round of 16.