Back to the roots in Sudan

Sports

The 'Red Castle'

At the stadium that is popularly know as the "Red Castle," fans take significant risks to hang up their club flags. The antiquated stadium that is home to Al-Merreikh SC in Omdurman has a capacity of 43,000. Dynamo Moscow, who played in the stadium's opening match, are one of the few European clubs to have visited Sudan. The stadium is also home to the country's national team.

Sports

Selfies with coach Krüger

Wherever Michael Krüger goes in Sudan, he is recognized by passers-by. Shortly after arriving at the airport, the German coach was held up by numerous people keen to take selfies with him. When he arrived at Al-Merreikh Stadium, Krüger was mobbed by supporters asking him to take charge of the Sudanese national team. Krüger declined - at least for now.

Sports

After the sun goes down

Due to the heat, all Sudanese Premier League matches kick off after sundown. While the ball boy, drawn from one of Al-Merreikh's youth squads, looks rather tired, the club's current coach, Diego Garzitto, 67, appears relieved that the temperature has cooled down a bit. The Frenchman has been at the club since 2014 and won the championship in 2015.

Sports

Club over country

The fact that Sudan are usually eliminated early from qualifying campaigns for the Africa Cup of Nations or the World Cup has helped the popularity of the country's clubs. Even youth matches are well attended and bad pitches help transform games into something akin to a lottery. There are usually plenty of goals - something that the fans demand. This one ended 4-2 for an Al-Merreikh youth squad.

Sports

Local derby

For fans of Al-Merreikh, the biggest game of the year is the derby against Al-Hilal, whose stadium is located within eyeshot of the "Red Castle." Al-Hilal have won the league 22 times, while Al-Merreikh have 20 league titles to their name. As the two team's games are broadcast live on television, they never play on the same day - except on derby day.

Sports

A long way to go

Youth development in Sudanese football has a long way to go. There are only three age classifications, for which most clubs have just one coach. Footballs and boots are hard to come by and the pitches are barely playable. At least the youth teams at Al-Merreikh have their own training ground. Michael Krüger has put a lot of effort into improving the youth development program here.

Sports

Successful run

African clubs are not known for their patience with their coaches, but Michael Krüger, 62, spent a total of almost three years in charge of Al-Merreikh SC. He has twice won the Sudanese league and cup double. Under his tutelage, they also became the first Sudanese team to qualify for the African Champions League. Previously, he also had successful spells coaching in Egypt and Ethiopia.

Sports

A no-go zone for women

These two young women, who are learning German at the Goethe Institute in Khartoum, have never been to a football match. Only men are allowed to attend games in the Republic of the Sudan and officially, there is only one women's team, at the Ahfad University for Women. Some of the players there wear the veil during training.

In the Bundesliga, things like under-soil heating and covered stadiums are the order of the day. Such luxuries are unthinkable in Sudan, where circumstances conspire to keep football closer to its roots.