Soccer News of Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Al-Merriekh president Gamal Al-Wali threatened to disband the Sudanese giants had they lost to Tanzanian side Azam in their CAF Champions League preliminary round tie on Saturday says Ghana midfielder Francis Coffie.
The former Asante Kotoko man, along with his compatriot Augustine Okrah, were influential as the Red Devils overcame a 2-0 first-leg defeat to win 3-0 in extra time in the second leg in Omdurman.
Speaking exclusively to Goal Ghana, Coffie has revealed how the club president threatened to disband the club had they not advanced to the first round proper.
“The mood was low after that first defeat,” Coffie began, “because everyone—the supporters, the coaches—had been thinking about and talking about Azam.
“We lost the league match before the preliminary tie [a 1-0 home defeat to Merreikh El-Fasher] and the fans were crazy, the morale was down, everyone was thinking about this.
“They attack us if we lose a game in this league. If we lost this game it would have been war here.”
Coffie then described how Al-Wali offered an ultimatum to the Al-Merreikh squad.
“After we lost, the president came to talk to us and reminded us that for the last five years Al-Merreikh have fallen in the preliminary round. He said that if we didn’t do it this time around, he would stop the team.
“He said he couldn’t continue again. This president is great, but he admitted that he was tired and that if we lost, he would end the team.
“It would be the end for the foreigners. If we lost the match he would sell the foreigners. He signed us for the Champions League and we needed to bear in mind that we knew that we had to win this match at all costs.
“It was inspirational.”
Coffie acknowledged, however, the role of the fans in giving the team belief ahead of the match.
“Yes, we were concerned we wouldn’t make it through,” Coffie continued, “but I saw the fans and I believed we could make it through. I believed we could score the three we needed to beat Azam.
“I saw the fans and I had that confidence. They are still celebrating now!”
The 3-2 aggregate victory sets Al-Merreikh up for a first-round tie against Angolan side Kabuscorp. The 2014 Girabola runners-up advanced to the first round after defeating Burundian side LLB Acedemic 1-0 on aggregate.