The Algerians have thus endured a six match win-less run at their favourite Stade 8 Mai 1945, located in the north-eastern city of Setif, dating back to 2010. The last victory for the Black Eagles at the group stage on home soil was a 3-0 win over Zimbabwean side, Dynamos on 27 August 2010.
And they appear to be on the same trend this term; suffering a 1-2 loss to fellows USM Alger in the first match before the 1-1 draw with Merreikh swelled their infamous record.
The Sudanese, housed in a group with three Algerian clubs came from behind to snatch a vital point in the away encounter. Nigerian Solomon Jabason restored parity on 23 minutes, six minutes after veteran Abdelmalik Ziaya gave the visitors the lead.
The defending champions are tied on four points with Merreikh, five points behind run-away leaders, USM Alger. The third Algerian side, MC Eulma rests at the depth of the standings pointless.
Setif broke the deadlock on 17 minutes, with Ziaya completing a three-man move with Walid Chenine and Fares Hachi as the other actors. Chenine was the initiator, fetching Hachi on the left and he laid to Ziaya, who trapped the ball before firing past Merreikh goalie Salim Omar.
The lead will last for only six minutes before an unmarked Jabason headed in a Francis Coffie corner for the equalizer.
The Merreikh attacking pair of Bakri Al Medina and Ivorian-import Didier Lebri gave the hosts backline some scary moments. Around the half-hour mark, Bakri and Lebri saw their efforts at goal miss narrowly.
On 77 minutes, Omar scored full marks by stopping substitute Mohamed Benyettou before his Setif counterpart, Abderraouf Belhani pulled a contender for the ‘save of the game’ by tipping out Bakri’s goal bound volley eight minutes from time.
Fares Belkheir (Assistant coach, ES Setif)
It has complicated our task. We had to win this match to go above the Sudanese. We make mistakes and always end up conceding and that's what happened. Now we have four points just El Merreikh, life goes on. This is not the end of the world. We will continue to fight until the last day to qualify.
Diego Garzitto (Head Coach, El Merreikh)
We wanted two points from our games against USM Alger and ES Setif. We managed to get one against Setif. We played a a good game. We wanted to take at least a point and we got it. This point will allow us to be comfortable before the rematch with Setif. We know it will not be easy because we will have to play a lot of matches during this period, but we must make do with it.
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