Leopards' task just got trickier
BLACK Leopards leave this morning for their CAF Confederation Cup play-off away tie at top Sudanese side Al-Merreikh on Saturday with the home team predicting a big win.
Lidoda Duvha travel to Omdurman without striker Kingston Nkhatha. They had hoped to use Nkhatha in this game before his transfer to Kaizer Chiefs, but he has not returned to training with the club following a holiday in his homeland and so has not been considered. The Zimbabwean's contract with Leopards ends only on Sunday.
A question mark also hangs over Nigerian forward Joshua Obaje, who was late getting back from his close-season break in his home town of Kaduna.
Terrorist attacks in that city have meant there has been a lockdown on travel and Obaje was battling to make it back to South Africa in time to join up with the travelling party.
But it is not just Leopards who have problems. Al-Merreikh's Brazilian coach Ricardo Ferreira says his side will be without seven key players for the game through injuries and, in the case of goalkeeper Essam Al-Hadary, national team commitments.
But he says he has studied Leopards closely and has devised a plan to beat them on Saturday, though he also warned his players to show Lidoda Duvha respect.
"I have watched six games played by Black Leopards, they are very dangerous on the counterattack, so this will demand (that we) prepare a team with good positioning and attacking qualities," said Ferreira. "Because the first game will be played at our home, we must win it and try to score goals which will give us a healthy lead going into the return match in South Africa."
Ferreira says Leopards' lowly position in the Absa Premiership last season should not be seen as a sign of weakness.
Meanwhile, midfielder Nasreldin Al Shigel says his side are looking for a three-goal margin at least.
Leopards will be led by their industrious captain, Mongezi Bobe.