What awaits Mapalastina in hostile Sudan
Botswana football giants, Township Rollers’ historic 3-0 victory against Sudanese Al Marrikh Soccer Club has set up a thrilling return leg on 21 February in Sudan.
Coach Nicola Kavazovic’s charges however have their work cut out for them.
The Red Devils of Sudan are notorious for the hostile reception they give their opponents – a reception that drastically intensifies when the odds are stuck against them.
There’s no denying that the club from Omdarman and 16-time Sudan Premier League winners are a force to reckon with and are capable of overturning the 3-0 scoreline in-front of a sold 43000 ‘Red Castle’.
However, it is the manner they achieve such feats that Rollers should worry about.
Spookily, as recently as 18 March 2017, The Red Devils overturned a 3-0 scoreline, defeating Nigerian club Rivers United to qualify for the group stage of the CAF Champions League.
Against all odds the Sudan team crushed their opponents 4-0 in front of screaming fans as the Nigerians were sent tumbling out of the CAF competition.
Ecstatic fans invaded the pitch at the end of the match, a matter that was reported to CAF.
After the shock defeat, Nigerian media reported that Rivers United faced a hostile local support and unfavorable conditions that bordered on intimidation.
It was not the first time that the Sudanese giants were reported to Africa’s football governing body.
In 2016 the club was probed for violent behaviour after some players and club officials roughed up the referee in charge of their match against Moroccan club Kawkab.
Gabonese whistle man Eric Otogo-Castane was handling the Confederation Cup play-off tie between the two sides. He awarded a penalty to the homeside and mayhem began with one Al Merrikh official shown slapping the retreating referee.
Kawkab later converted the spot kick to win the second leg 2-0 and play-off tie 2-1 on aggregate.
Kavazovic was right in his post match interview when he said they’ll be going to hell in Sudan.
The club is already hyping up its red legion of fans and recently posted on their Facebook page that they have decided on a television blackout in order to lure thousands of supporters to the stadium.
There’ll be war in Khartoum, and if Rollers thought this was over, they need to call long distance in Nigeria and ask Rivers United – there’s still much to play for!