Al Hilal keep Sudanese fairytale alive

Khartoum club Al Hilal are on the brink of completing a fairytale year for football in Sudan as they head to Tunisia for the second leg of their African Champions League semifinal tomorrow.

Khartoum club Al Hilal are on the brink of completing a fairytale year for football in Sudan as they head to Tunisia for the second leg of their African Champions League semifinal tomorrow.

Al Hilal take a 2-1 advantage into the match in Sousse against Tunisian champions Etoile Sahel and are seeking to crown 12 months of unexpected success for Sudanese football.

A place in the Champions League final would come just months after Sudan's national side ended a three-decade drought by qualifying for January's African Nations Cup finals.

Al Hilal's domestic rivals Al Merreikh are virtually certain of a place in the African Confederation Cup final next month.

For Al Hilal to ensure a hat trick of success stories they would need to just a draw against their polished Tunisian opponents.

Al Hilal have not proven the best of travellers in this year's Champions League, failing to win in their past five games on the road.

But a remarkable campaign for the Sudanese has already seen them dismiss the challenge of former winners Asec Abidjan of the Ivory Coast, Esperance of Tunisia, Zamalek of Egypt as well as Nigerian club Nasarawa United. Al Hilal are expected to welcome back key midfielder Rtshard Justin Lado for the match against a strong Etoile side.

The Tunisians need only win 1-0 to advance on the away goals rule and are likely to lead the attack.

Should Etoile Sahel advance they will likely set up a repeat of the 2005 final against Egypt's Al Ahli.

The defending champions are heavily fancied to progress to a third successive final at the expense of Al Ittihad of Libya. Al Ahli host Sunday's tie in Cairo having forced a goalless draw in Tripoli in the first leg. - Reuters

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