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We are here to win: Al Amal

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Visiting Sudanese football giants Al Amal Atbara, who are meeting Hwange in the Caf Confederation Cup first round, first leg at the Colliery on Sunday, have vowed to stun the local team in their own backyard.

The delegation of 18 players, five officials and three journalists touched down at Harare International Airport yesterday afternoon, before they connected to Victoria Falls aboard a chartered Air Zimbabwe plane.

While Hwange’s opponents in the preliminary round Jamhuri had to endure more than 738km to Matabeleland North by road when they visited the country last month, the Sudanese team refused to use that option, forcing Hwange to charter a plane.

In fact, Hwange had proposed that Al Amal Atbara use the South Africa route that would have seen the team going straight to Victoria Falls, but that was turned down in a gesture that many saw as a way of frustrating the local team.

Al Amal Atbara head coach Mehmoud Izzecdeen, however, refuted that conspiracy theory, saying they had already made their travelling arrangements when they received the proposal from Hwange. Izzecdeen, who is familiar with the Zimbabwe trenches as he we was part of the Zamalek side that beat Dynamos at Rufaro Stadium more than a decade ago, was quick to declare war on their opponents.

“This is not my first time in Zimbabwe,” said the Egyptian national. “I was part of the Zamalek team that came here in 1995 and beat Dynamos 5-1. I would want to do that again. We have prepared well for this match as we played four league matches including a 1-0 win over El Merreikh who are also here for a Champions League match, so I think we are ready. We are here to win the match, and nothing else,” said the 40-year-old Izzecdeen.

El Merreikh play FC Platinum in the Caf Champions League first round, first leg at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow. Izzecdeen said he had brought in his best possible team that has five players who are in the Sudan national team. The players are Sami Ailla, Tagig Mukhtar, Mohd Adam, Mohid Eltahir and Khalid Moh. However, he said his first choice centre striker Nigerian Sooly Sherif could not make the trip due to an injury.

“We don’t have much information about Hwange because they are a new team in these African club competitions. They don’t have experience, but we know that Zimbabwean football is progressing as shown by the performance of Dynamos over the years. You also have one of your players Edward Sadomba who is doing well in Sudan so there is no way we can underrate Hwange. The last time I was here we beat Dynamos but I don’t want to say we will repeat that scoreline, this time we will win 2-0,” said Izzecdeen. The team’s head of delegation Mohd Almacud reiterated the coach’s sentiments, emphasising that they were here to do business.

“Hwange are a water melon to us. We will only know about them in the field. We don’t have much information about Zimbabwe. We know about Sadomba of course, your economy, Dynamos and the Victoria Falls but most of this we got it on the Internet on our way here.

“We will play the match in Hwange and I hear it’s near Victoria Falls but don’t think we are here as tourists. We are here to win the match,” said Almacud.

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