Words by Abdul Musa
One of the most controversial transfers in Sudanese footballing history saw star striker Bakri Al Madina leave Al Hilal, despite initially agreeing to renew his contract, to eternal rivals Al Merriekh after the latter had payed a large sum of money to lure the player. Al Madina even put pen to paper with Al Hilal at the club president’s house before changing his decision and formally signing for Al Merriekh just three days later.
This was possible as the law in Sudan stipulates that player contracts have to be signed at the Sudanese FA headquarters only for them to be officially documented. This, understandably, has left a bitter taste amongst the Al Hilal faithful, especially as Madina went on to have the best season of his career. He led Al Merriekh to their first even CAF Champions League semi final as well as a league and cup double; completely justifying Al Merriekh’s investment in him which reached over half a million dollars.
Al Madina, who is known as ‘The Scorpion’ for his famous goal celebration where he walks in handstand motion with his legs up in the sky dangling down, was involved in 11 goals for Al Merriekh, scoring seven himself as well as assisting four times throughout Al Merriekh’s historic 2015 CAF Champions League campaign. In the end, he fell only 1 goal behind TP Mazembe’s Mbwanna Aly Samatta in the top scorer charts.
One of the quickest players in African football, particularly when in full flight, his toughness, tirelessness and trikery as an opponent is reflected by the fact that he is the most fouled player in the Sudanese Premier League, managing to win 11 penalties for his side throughout the season, with 3 of them coming in the CAF Champions League at crucial points in the competition (e.g. Esperance de Tunis in the last 16). Overall, he ended the season with 18 goals and countless assists, spearheading Al Merriekh to one of their best seasons in recent years.
Although the player is considered one of the best Sudanese strikers in recent years, he still has a lot to prove especially as this is his only solid season throughout his career. He spent most of his career – five years – at Al Hilal and he wasn’t able to perform well or cement a place in the starting XI until the very last season where he showed some sparks of brilliance, which was the main reason why Al Merriekh invested so heavily in him.
The 28-year-old is also known for his bad temper on the field which saw him receive a six match ban earlier in the year after violent conduct towards a referee in a league match versus Ahli Shandi which Al Merriekh lost 1-0.
Last month, he was sent off in the semi final of the CECAFA tournament with the national team after foul play with only 22 minutes on the clock. In order for him to progress further in his career and not off-put foreign clubs, he must control these temperamental issues and focus more on the game, especially as he seeks an opportunity outside of Sudan.
Highlight of the Year: Influence in the first leg of the CAF CL semi-final
The moment of the year for Bakri Al Madina has to be his performance against eventual winners TP Mazembe in the first leg of the semi final where Al Merriekh ended up 2-1 winners. Al Madina was heavily involved in the first goal scored by Ghanian import Francis Coffie as well as adding the second goal himself after taking the ball onto his chest from a lofted pass by Raji Abdelatti. Receiving the ball about 12 yards from goal, he smashed the ball past Robert Kidiaba on the volley to win the game for Al Merriekh in front of 45,000 thousand supporters.
‘The Scorpion’ also had another goal disallowed in the 85th minute after he headed the ball firmly past Kidiaba but the referee accused him of pushing Joel Kimwaki in the process disallowing a very crucial goal which would have definitely put Al Merriekh in a more comfortable position before the away tie in Lubumbashi.