February 19, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan went through to the semi-finals of the Orange African Nations Championship after nail biting encounter with Niger in Omdurman on Friday. Despite a numerous chances the hosts needed penalties to finally beat the West African team who had rode their luck throughout the game.
- A Sudan player, in red, challenges a Niger player during Sudan’s victory on at Hilal stadium. February 18, 2011 (Photo: Confederation of African Football- CAF)
The home team went ahead early in the first half when Abd Elgadir Babeker Bakri got on the end of cross from the left after 17 minutes. Sudan’s ‘Nile Crocodiles’ should have put the game to bed by half time missing a host of chances.
In the second half Sudan began where they left carving Niger open but again their finishing let them down. Niger had a midfielder sent off midway through the second half after a dangerous head-high tackle earned their midfielder a second yellow card.
But the away team managed to forge an equalizer when Issa Modibo Sidibe swiveled and hit a superb volley from the edge of the box on 65 minutes, which went in off the post past the despairing dive of the Sudanese goal keeper.
After drawing level, Niger seemed content on playing for penalties constantly going down with cramp and other injuries. The Niger goalkeeper was the most-guilty culprit, going down for treatment at every opportunity.
The capacity 30,000 crowd at the stadium of Hilal, the Sudanese league champions, grew increasingly frustrated by Niger’s tactics and the, at times, lethargic and sloppy play from their team. But the Crocodiles still were able to craft yet more clear cut chances only to shoot wide or too close to the goalkeeper.
In extra time the increasingly frustrated partisan crowd rallied behind their team but the pattern of the first 90 minutes continued as Sudan continued to waste decent chances to win the game.
The first two penalties were comfortably put away before Sudan’s keeper pulled off a good save to his right. But Sudan was unable to convert their advantage when the next effort was palmed away.
Sudan scored their next two penalties before the Niger penalty taker struck his shot high over the cross bar to the delight of Sudanese supporters.
Hilal captain, Hysam Mustafa, stepped off to finish the game off with a well taken penalty sending the crowd into rapture.
Sudan will now play the winner of the Angola – Cameroon clash, which takes place at Merreikh stadium on Saturday. Earlier on Friday Algeria beat South Africa two-nil at Khartoum stadium and will play either Tunisia or DR Congo in the semi-final.
11- Abd Elgadir Babeker Bakri - 17 minutes
9- Issa Modibo Sidibe – 65 minutes
Penalties: Sudan 4 - 3 Niger