Al Merreikh, Djoliba clinch semi-final slots

Djoliba players
Djoliba of Mali are celebrating a semi-final place

Brazilian defender Eder Lima turned goal scorer as Al Merreikh booked a Confederation Cup semi-final place on Sunday with a 1-0 win at fellow-Sudanese club Al Ahly Shandy.

Lima, a 26-year-old once on the books of famous Sao Paulo club Santos, scored after 75 minutes of a match briefly halted just before time as several local supporters threw stones to protest decisions by the Moroccan referee.

The incident came just two weeks after Shandy followers stoned Merreikh players as they left the field in Omdurman following a 2-0 win, injuring Egypt goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary.

About 100 Merreikh supporters demonstrated their loyalty by walking 150 kilometres from the capital Khartoum to north-eastern town Shandy for the Sudanese showdown instead of using buses, taxis or cars.

Merreikh have 10 points after four rounds in Group A followed by arch Omdurman rivals Al Hilal (eight), Ahly (three) and 2011 semi-finalists InterClube of Angola (one).

Al Hilal need only draw at home to Ahly on 5 October to join Merreikh in the semi-finals of the second-tier Pan-African club competition with a $660,000 first prize.

Al Hilal gave their best performance of the mini-league phase to hammer InterClube 3-0 in Omdurman through first half goals from Senegalese Ibrahima Sane, Mudathir Eltaib and Mohammed Al Tahir.

Djoliba of Mali clinched a semi-final slot from Group B on Saturday with a surprise 2-1 win at 2011 Champions League runners-up Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville are poised to join them after beating Malian visitors and 2009 Confederation Cup winners Stade Malien 1-0 through a 25th-minute goal from Cesaire Gandze to move four points clear of Wydad and Stade.

Leopards, who eliminated two-time Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia and defending champions Moghreb Fes of Morocco en route to the group phase, need three points from two fixtures to be sure of advancing.

Aboubacar Bangoura was the toast of Djoliba in Casablanca, scoring a last-minute winner after Alou Bagayoko gave the Malians an early lead and Abderrazak El Mnasfi levelled midway through the opening half.

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