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Despite a late 3-1 second leg away defeat to Engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries club (ENPPI), Oumed Oukri’s goal helped the Saints gallop into Ethiopian football history, opening a new chapter as the first Ethiopian club to book a place in the African Confederation Cup group stage. The Horse Men are drawn in group “A” along with two sides from West Africa and one from North Africa.
With a two-goal deficit after the 2-0 first leg defeat here in Addis Ababa, the hosts, spearheaded by Ivorian goal hunter Vincent de Fonye started the game in a hurry, but the visitors’ were very careful not to concede an early goal and managed to put up a good defense then began getting into their natural rhythm after twenty minutes of play. Nevertheless, Fonye opened the score sheet 25 minutes into the game, but the lead was cancelled out twelve minutes later when Oumed Oukri scored the all-important equalizer before the whistle for half time. Back from the dressing room, Michael Kruger’s team featured a good defense as well as some surprise attacks. The score line stayed at 1-1 until the final six minutes, when it appeared the home side ENPPI was hopelessly out of the competition. But ENPPI took the lead again through the host’s one-man strike force Fonye at the 84th minute and then he scored a hat trick minutes later, giving his team a much needed boost and hope. The visitors, although shaken, managed to keep their composure until the final whistle in which Saint George made it into the history books with an away-goal advantage after a 3-3 aggregate result. In the two groups of the last eight quarter finals the Saints were drawn in group “A”, along with Stade Malien (Mali), Enugu Rangers (Nigeria) and Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), with Saint George getting ready to entertain the Malian visitors in the group’s opening match during the first week of July here in Addis Ababa. The winners of the groups play in the Championships Cup final, with the winner taking home the coveted trophy that go along with the USD 625,000 prize money, while the runner up ends up taking USD 434,000 as consolation. The sides that finish bottom of their respective groups will collect USD 150,000. In group “B”, where former African champions DRC’s TP Mazembe are hot favorites to win, Entente Sétif of Algeria, FUS Rabat of Morocco and CA Bizertin of Tunisia will be vying for the top spot.