Sudanese club side Al Merreikh enter the weekend with success in mind as the Omdurman team begins the Orange CAF Confederation Cup campaign to reach the group stage of the competition with a home game against South Africa's Black Leopards at Al Merreikh Stadium. Merreikh's Brazilian coachHeron Ricardo Ferreira issued a rallying call ahead of the game. Ricardo who was aiming to be contesting for the more prestigious Champions League trophy but lost out to TP Mazembe to find themselves competing in this competition told Cafonline.com that Al Merreikh will be taking their appearance seriously and want to make up for the disappointment of getting knocked out of Champions League.
How disappointed are you to be playing in Confederation Cup instead of Champions league?
Ricardo: We are not disappointed. Merreikh can work to improve the football style and play to another level as we were not full ready . We lost to a very strong side which is TP Mazembe . I hope to reach Orange Confederation Cup final , that our new objective to achieve for this season. Our situation is not excellent at this moment as there are some key players injured. As a result of this we trained with only 16 players, beside this we also have new players in the team. So this situation prevents me from making the necessary adjustments to the squad, but I feel the players improve in the training.
Now that you are in this competition does your approach change and if so how?
In my approach I always prefer to play with 4-4-2 , it is modern and most of the big guns in football rely on it. My players adapted to my system. My philosophy is to play football, try to control the game , the midfield, to keep the ball more time and to use it correctly to create opportunities.
There are two other Sudanese clubs, Hilal and Shandy in this competition, does this give you an extra reason to want to do well in this competition?
Of course. I don't want Hilal or Ahly Shandy to win this competition. I want us to win the competition and we have a good team in the Confederation that can do that. When you see the trophy lying in front of your eyes, you want to win it without looking so much at who is competing with you . Merreikh is a big team in Sudan and Africa, so I want build a very strong side from it
Tell us about what you have come up with in your homework on Black Leopards?
I have watched six games played by Black Leopards, they are very dangerous on counter attack, so this will demand from us to prepare a team with a good positioning and attacking qualities. Because the first game will be played at our home, we must win it and try to score goals which will give us a healthy lead going into the return match in South Africa. The most important thing is to win in Omdurman this weekend . It is not my problem that Black Leopards nearly got relegate to the second division last month. I don't like to say that they are not good side, in Confederation Cup you can't say something like that, but if Al Merreikh start to think about that Black Leopards as an easy prey and we take them lightly then Merreikh may lose in Omdurman. We have to play against them paying attention and with respect just like we did against TP Mazembe before.
What is the news from your medical team , do you have all your players available to play against Leopards?
No I don't have a full squad, I have some problems in terms of injured players. It is the not the best of situations . We also have the newly signed players from Brazil and Sudanese side club Maourada all of them will not play this weekend. The injury list included Raji and Nigerian Steven Wargu. This very bad for my team, because they are good players
How much of an impact will the absence of Akram and Amir Kamal be if they don't recover in time to play?
The first choice goalkeeper Akram has the opportunity to play as he is improving. Utility player Amir Kamal is not available as well as Egyptian goalkeeper Isam Al Hadary who is away with his country for the 2013 AFCON qualifier against Central African Republic. I will be missing seven key players before facing Black Leopards.
What is your realistic goal in this competition?
If I have 25 players in good condition I think we can win the Cup but without healthy players it is difficult. If I bring back the all key players from injury like Wargu and Raji I can say it will be possible to win the Confederation