KHARTOUM (sudanow-magazine.net) – The Sudanese football season on Thursday wound up with al-Hilal of Omdurman winning both the League and the Sudan Cup Titles.
Al-Hilal early in October secured the League title – three weeks ahead of schedule- with a nine-point difference from its embattled arch rival al-Merrikh of Omdurman.
The club came on Thursday to win the cup of the lower completion , the Sudan Cup (a contest on similar lines of the British Federation cup).
In this match, al-Hilal emerged the winner after defeating Hilal-al-Obayyid club of Northern Kordofan State of the mid-west 2-1, in a breath-taking match .
It is the Hilal al-Obayyid that demonstrated some surprise in the otherwise monotonous football competition.
Surprise, because the nascent club that joined the League just last year, had proved up to the challenge, defeating both giants al-Hilal and al-Merrikh in the League cup. Not just defeating them, but humiliating them as the league’s newcomer had crushed al-Hilal 4-2 and al Merrikh 5-0. Where? Inside their private stadiums with their miserable fans watching.
Thus the situation, everybody had expected the team to defeat al-Hilal and win the Sudan Cup in Thursday’s match, played in Wad Madani, the Gezira State, in the midlands.
Still Hilal al-Obayyid has left a thumbprint in Sudanese football.
Much of the team’s glory is attributed to its clever coach Ibrahim Hussain, a former Captain of al-Merrikh and the country’s National Team.
Widely known by the diminutive “Ibrahoma’’ , the coach is found to paralyse his pitch foes by separating the midfield from the forwards. Securing such a tight defence, he would then look for a corridor within the defence of his rivals. Having found this corridor, his skillful forwards Sheikh Makuro and Dekoar would continue to press for goals , aided with perfect passes from artful playmaker Muhannad al-Tahir-nicknamed al-ghazal al-asmar (the black antelope).
Part of the glory is also attributed to the team sponsor, Governor of North Kordofan State Ahmad Haroun , who is said to be always ready with cash and moral support.
The fans in al-Obayyid City also show tireless backing for the team, often travelling with it for matches around the country.
Coach Ibrahoma in an interview said the City’s public was so cooperative and generous towards the club that, for example, hotel owners often charge them less and even turn a blind eye on extra guests when the team is camping in their grounds.
Last year al-Merrikh won both contests. The two giants al-Hilal and al-Mirrikh had had a monopoly of both titles for decades now.
This matter-of-factually situation had caused Sudan’s football contests to lack lustre , with the exception of very small surprises here and there, like what had happened from Hilal al-Obayyid this year.
Three league teams have been relegated to first class contests in their respective regions. These are Annisour (eagles) and al-Ameer (prince) of Khartoum and Hilal al-Fashir of North Darfur State in the far West.
Confirmed League new comers are al-Shurta (police) of the Gadarif State (Central East) and Hay al-Arab of Port Sudan (far East). Hay al-Arab is one of the country’s oldest teams. It descended down from the League two years ago. Two other League newcomers are yet to be known when centre league final matches are played in a few days.
By the result, al-Hilal and al-Merrikh will represent the country in the CAF Champions League. While Hilal al-Obayyid and Ahly Shendi will play in the CAF Confederation tournament.
Al-Merrikh will also represent Sudan in the now-revived and lucrative Arab clubs tournament, by virtue of its achievement last year as League champion.
Al-Merrikh’s low profile this season is blamed on the fact that many of its seasoned players could not cope because of injury or because of CAF punishments. Defence giants Ameer Kamal and Ali Ja’afar were suspended for three months for misconduct during a match with the Moroccan al-Kawkab al Marakishi , in the African Champions League quarterfinals. Powerful midfielder Ala’a-Eddin Yousif was also suspended for a similar period for the same offence.
Sudan’s Youth National Team has also fought its way to the finals of the African Youth Tournament (to be played in Lusaka, Zambia), among eight other African youth teams.
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