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With a low powerful drive from 25 meter s, striker Oumed Oukri gave St. George an all important away-goal advantage in a 1-1 draw against the five-time African Champions Zamalek in a first-leg showdown behind closed doors in Cairo. The return leg takes place on Sunday 25th May at the Addis Ababa Stadium, with the home side hot favorites to join the last eight, making history as the first Ethiopian club to reach the African Champions’ League group stage.
In the absence of the club’s number one striker Adane Girma due to injury, the Saints managed to line up a strong defensive line-up spearheaded by Oumed, who grabbed the opener at the 63rd minute. Though it was from a defensive square-pass error, Oumed’s perfect first touch, then a low volley from an unexpected distance, took everyone by sheer surprise. Previously, the striker had missed some clear chances and playmaker Shimeles Bekele also botched another chance to score a goal. The team changed tactics three times in an effort to score additional goals, but due to a clumsy mistake from an overconfident defender, Abebaw Butako, Zamalek grabbed a late equalizer. Abebaw should have stopped the striker from a square pass into the centre from which Cisse grabbed the equalizer at the 83rd minute. The home side tried repeatedly to breach St. George’s defensive line, but the central defenders stood firm and the outstanding performance by the Ugandan international goalkeeper, Odunkara, prevented any further mishap, leaving ‘The Horse Men’ with a clear chance to make history for club and country. Head coach Michael Krugger appears on the verge of achieving the goal he had set as his priority; i.e. steering The Horse Men to the unprecedented group stage of the African Champions League. The German is one match away from booking a place in the club’s history books as the first coach to accomplish this feat. Although the goalkeeper played a major role, it was the midfield trio (Yared – Joseph – Tesfaye Alebachew) that really made the tactical game fruitful. St. George are certainly hot favorites to win the return leg home match in front of the home crowd, but the visitors will have no choice but to mount a strong attack from the very start if they are to turn around the result, thus the club needs to come up with a winning strategy to keep them at bay.