SERBIAN APR COACHLjubomirPetrovic has hailed his youthful squad and acknowledged facing a superior and experienced El Merreikh side which ended APR’s hopes of winning their fourth CecafaKagame Cup title.
El Merreikh exhibited professional acumen to grind out a 1-0 victory over APR in the CecafaKagame Cup final played on Sunday at Amahoro National Stadium.
Petrovic admitted that his side did not play well enough to win the trophy.
“They were fantastic. I warned my team before this that El Merreikh would study us on film and apply tactics that would suit them. They are that good.
“They can vary their game because their players and coach are very experienced. My players are younger and lesser experienced; we paid the price,” Petrovic, the man who won the 1991 European Cup with Red Star Belgrade, said in a post-match TV interview.
When El Merreikh coach Youssief Burhan-Eldin played a 4-3-3 system for the first time in the tournament, people noted his intention to win at all costs.
His team was very sharp up front and skilful, dazzling attacker, the Malian Mohamed Traore provided consistent attacking options for his team.
In the 24th minute, Kenya striker Allan Wanga pounced on a squared ball to push the ball in past APR goalie Olivier Kwizera.
El Merreikh were then to play tactfully throughout the match, defending well and pressing well whenever they had the ball and though APR fought all the way, they were clearly outthought by the Sudan team from Omdurman, a satellite city across the River Nile from Khartoum.
The El Merreikh victory was their third in the Cecafa Club Championship, only having won in 1986 and 1994. APR were looking for their fourth title having won – all at home – in 2004, 2007 and 2010.
For APR, it was the second consecutive year that they have failed to win a final after falling to Burundi’s Vital’O in last year’s finale in Darfur.
El Merreikh’s most outstanding player Omar Salim Magoola who has only been at the club for two months having transferred from KCCA of Uganda in June admitted that he was extremely impressed with his team’s performance.
“I am so happy that we are champions of Cecafa. It means a lot to me because this is my first trophy with El Merreikh and for sure we played outstanding football here in Kigali,” explained the 19 year-old Magoola after the final.
El Merreikh bagged $30,000 for emerging winners while APR walked away with $20,000 for being the first runners-up.