Goalie Magoola hero as El Merreikh stun Ugandans to reach historic sixth Cup Final

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Salim Omar Magoola, the El Merreikh goalie saved two penalties and converted one  in one of the magical performances at the Cecafa Kagame Cup. He put his team into Sunday’s Final after eliminating hot favourites Kampala Capital City Authority [KCCA] after a post-extra time penalty shoot-out at Nyamirambo Friday.

It was amazing as leading tournament goal scorer Brian Umony had KCCA’s first penalty kick stopped by Magoola then followed by a Tom Masiko wide miss to the left and another save by Magoola that kept off another Uganda star Brian Majwega’s kick.

It was a nil score for the Ugandans as El Merreikh’s Gabril Balla, Faisal Moussa Hussein Faisal ‘keeper Magoola converted there. Only Kenya international Allan Wanga had his kick stopped by Yassin Mugabi.

The El Merreikh hero, only 19-years-old, ironically joined the Omdurman club from KCCA at the beginning of the Sudanese season. At KCCA, the youngster had already proved himself as an incredible penalty stopper.

El Merreikh played tactfully, changing their game plan to suit stopping the marauding Ugandans. Two strikers, Traore and Wanga were at the head of the attack with the rest of their men pressing to stay with every KCCA man with the ball.

The Ugandans were uncomfortable with that and lost many 50-50 ball contests. In fact Traore and Balla scored off attacks mounted from KCCA’s lost possession.

But the sharp Ugandans came back after being a goal down twice, Umony and Masiko showing their excellent finish. The haunting thing for their team was that they were they failed with the crucial penalties.

It will be El Merreikh’s fifth Final in the Club championship with wins in 1986, 2-2 and penalties decision over Young Africans of Tanzania and 1994 after 1-0 victory over Express of Uganda.

El Merreikh’s Cecafa Club Cup failed finals:

- 1987 v SC Villa (Uganda) lost 0-1

- 1988 v Kenya [Tusker] Breweries (Kenya) lost 0-2

2009 v Atraco (Rwanda) lost 0-1

El Merreikh coach Youssief Burhan-Eldin said after the match: “Indescribable; the match was too difficult, my players gave it all, almost to exhaustion.”

Man-of-the-match, El Merreikh’s Amir Kamal was also lost for words as he beamingly in halting English: “Great tournament. Happy, happy for the fans, the people… everyone. Very enjoyable here and very happy…”