Against the run of play, Eudes Dagoulou put the visitors in the lead on 15 minutes capitalising on a blunder by the host backline.
Merreikh came close and Coffie set up Bakri Babeker, who headed wide from close range. The host finally found their breakthrough on 34 minutes through captain Abdelati from a corner.
Three minutes later, Setif, who won their second title only two years ago, went ahead again through petit midfielder Abdelmoumen Djabou, to give his side a lead into the break.
Merreikh resumed stronger and the introduction of Malian Mohamed Traore for Mohamed Marhoum brought some life into their attack. It was therefore little wonder when Abdelati restored parity yet again from a corner on 54 minutes.
The return leg will take place on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 in Setif, and at stake is a place at the lucrative mini league stage for the winner.
Saturday, 9 April 2016
El Merreikh (Sudan) 2-2 ES Setif (Algeria)
Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco) 2-0 TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
Stade Malien (Mali) 1-3 Zesco United (Zambia)
Young Africans (Tanzania) 1-1 Al Ahly (Egypt)
ASEC Mimosas (Egypt) 2-0 Ahly Tripoli (Libya)
Zamalek (Egypt) 2-0 MO Bejaia (Algeria)
Sunday, 10 April 2016
AS Vita (DR Congo) vs Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
Enyimba (Nigeria) vs Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)