Saint George, a game away from making history


A sensational start but a shaky second half performance, defending Ethiopian champion Saint George managed a 2-0 first leg home win over visitors ENPPI of Egypt. The return leg in Cairo next Sunday appears a huge undertaking yet with a marvelous reward of booking a place in the Confederation Cup last eight.
It took only five minutes before Saint George relegated to Confederation Cup following the Champions League defeat in away goal advantage to Zamalek to open the score line. Yared Zenabu fed the diminutive playmaker Shimeles Bekele an inch perfect pass of which Shimeles volleyed past ENPPI goalie Tarik Al-asheriair. Backed by chanting home support Saints went for forward play that paid in the 22nd minute when Abebaw Butako caught a napping ENPPI goalie to a left foot high volley to further the lead. Fresh face Alemayehu Muleta, skipper Degu Debebe, Ugandan Issac Isende and Abebaw a formidable defense line, even the much talked about Ivorian striker Vincent Defonye hardly able to create some surprises. Man of the match Tesfaye Alebachew in his best form of snatching and distributing away passes, the five men midfield including Yared, William, Shemeles and Yonatan Berhanu took the midfield under control although splendid passes to Oumed was so short. With all that, home fans expected for a big second half win so that to travel to Cairo for the second leg with better goal cushion. However, things failed to turn out as planned for the home side rather the visitors managed to some surprise attacks although hardly to make trouble for the giant goalkeeper Robert Odunkara. Although the German head coach Michael Krugger used all three substitutions nothing dramatic happened in the second half and the game ended in a 2-0 score line.
Many commented it is a good result but the return leg in Cairo next Sunday likely to be a nail biting theatre as the Egyptian sides are famous to do whatever it takes to win at home soil. As seen against Zamalek defensive play might mean suicide thus a big homework for Krugger to help Saint George become the first ever Ethiopian side to reach Confederation Cup group stage. Also on Sunday former African champion TP Mazembe clinched a 4-0 first leg home win over Liga Muculmana while Etoile du Sahel also former champions settled for a 2-2 away draw with Algerian JSM Bejaja.