One weekend, three games, all the information.
The weekend is here and you all know what our deal is. Our weekly tour is taking us to Algeria, Armenia and Sudan for the final moments of those exciting football scenarios.
Saturday, 1700, MO Béjaïa – MC Oran (Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1)
Imagine a tight league table, which by the end of the season, every team can either win the title or face relegation. This is exactly the reality in the Algerian league. Four matches left and there is a gap of just 11 points between the first and the last place. Béjaïa and Oran are two teams which are still closer to the top, but in this crazy situation, they cannot know which place they will be after the match.
MO Béjaïa is a tiny club who spent most of its history in the second division. Last season they made their debut season, and this year continued their improvement and won the Algerian Cup. They are ranked in 4th place, especially due to their bad form against the 2nd and the 3rd place, but they are two points behind the leaders, ES Sétif. Their biggest names are Zahir Zerdab, who scored the winning goal in the cup final, Ismaïl Mansouri, who won last season's title with USM Alger, and Nassim Dehouche, who played for the club in youth level, made a great career at the country’s big teams, and came back to his home club when it was promoted.
MC Oran is much more experienced team in the top levels of Algerian football. They won the domestic league four times, but their last title was in 1993. They aim to win it again this season, as they are also part from the league equal top three, and ranked 3rd. The manager, Jean-Michel Cavalli, is an experienced coach who is also the manager of Corsica representative team. Among the players you can find Khaled Kharroubi, who played 4 years for Valenciennes, Yacine Bezzaz, another Algerian who made long journey in French football, and Lyès Saïdi, who lately won an interesting title – the 2011 World Military Cup with the Algerian Army team.
It is a cliché, but it is literally a game of ‘anything is possible’. It will be interesting one to follow.
Sunday, 1240, Shirak – Pyunik (Armenian Premier League)
The pressure is on in the last moments of the season, as the race for the championship is about to conclude. The match of Shirak and Pyunik on Sunday will be a ‘Jackpot’ game – if Pyunik will win, they will be crowned as the champions; If Shirak will win, the competition will be open until the last minute.
Shirak are currently in the 2nd place, six points behind Pyunik, with three matches left. The team, who won the first Armenian title in 1992, wants to win it for the fifth time. It seems to be impossible unless they will win this match. The club’s chairman is Arman Sahakyan, an elected parliament member and a member of the Republican Party of Armenia, which is a nationalist right-wing party. Watch out for Karen Aleksanyan, who won three domestic titles during his long career, Jean-Jacques Bougouhi, the league's topscorer with 19 goals, and Tigran Davtyan, a home-grown player who played for six years in the team, left, and came back six years ago and he is a real club legend.
Pyunik is the most dominant club in Armenian football. After 10 consecutive championships, they failed to win the title on the last 3 seasons, but now they are getting closer to their 14th title. It's no surprise that as the strongest team in the country, they have also a famous coach, Sargis Hovsepyan, the most capped player in the Armenian national team (131 caps) and one of the heroes in Pyunik's dynasty. Pay attention to Cesar Romero, that alongside with Shirak's Bougouhi is the league's co-topscorer, David Manoyan, which is on-loan from the Russian team Kuban Krasnodar, and Taron Voskanyan, who is a hot prospect of the Armenian football.
Only one team could grab the title, this match will decide whether it will be a surprise or a continuation of Pyunik’s reign.
Sunday, 1900, Al-Hilal Omdurman – Al-Merrikh (Sudan Premier League)
Last weekend Al-Hilal Omdurman and Al-Merreikh played in the CAF Champions League qualifiers. They both qualified to the group stage, which will be the first time since 2009 that two teams from Sudan will play in that stage. On Sunday, the teams will play each other in the domestic league.
Al-Hilal Omdurman is the dominant club in Sudan, who won 14 championships in the last 21 seasons. As reigning champions, Al-Hilal aspires to win the title again, as they lead the table confidently. In the squad you can find many players with a rich experience in Sudan national team like the midfielder Mohamed Ahmed Bashir, known as Bisha, and the striker Mudather El Tahir. Other names that should be noticed are Athir Thomas, South Sudanese player that plays in Sudan despite the ongoing conflict, and David Simbo, Sierra Leonean player who spent the recent season in Norway and Sweden. While Al-Hilal keeps dominating the local scene, Al-Merrikh is trying to steal the title, whenever it's possible. After they finished in 2nd place last season and missed the title by a single point. Now, once again they’re 2nd, two points less from the leaders. Al-Merrikh's coach is the veteran German Otto Pfister, who already led the team in 2007 to the Sudanese Cup and to the CAF Confederation Cup's final. In the squad You can find some valuable players like Allan Wanga, Kenyan player who played in Angola, Azerbaijan and Vietnam, and the local players Ahmed El-Basha, Balla Jabir, and Mosaab Omer, all playing in the club for years.
Is it the time for another Al-Hilal title? Or should Al-Merrikh be the one to celebrate? BabaGol and Yosport are usually with the underdogs and always down for surprises. We will be following closely.