28 July 2012

East Africa: Azam Face Yanga

Photo: Tanzania Daily News
GIANTS Young Africans celebrating the CECAFA Kagame Cup trophy victory.

After two weeks of all action football the curtains come down on the Cecafa Kagame Cup here in Da-es-Salaam, Tanzania when defending champions Yanga take on compatriots Azam in the final this afternoon.

For the second successive year, two teams from Tanzania Mainland will be competing in the finals of the Cecafa Kagame Club Cup after overcoming tough semi-final matches to book their ticket to fight out for the US$60,000 (Sh5million) prize money on hand for the winners.

Azam playing in their first ever tournament have confounded both friends and foe to deservedly book their place in today's final after seeing off Simba SC and DR Congo's Vita to reach the final hurdle.

"We have improved a lot as the games have progressed. I have been happy with the showing of my players in the knockout stages and what remains for us is to complete the job against Yanga," he said.

For the reigning champions, their form has come full circle and their opening day loss to Athletico of Burundi is now a distant memory as they seek to become only the fifth team to lift the tournament back to back and the first to do so, since 2000 and 2001 when Tusker achieved the feat.

"Our only focus is to beat Azam and retain the tournament. When it started, we didn't look like we could come this far but credit to their players they have risen to the occasion when it has been demanded of them," said Yanga coach Tom Saintfet after their semi-final victory over APR courtesy of Uganda's Hamisi Kiiza's extra time goal.

Azam made light work of the absence of midfield Collosus Balou Kippre to come from behind and beat Vita . They will have to reach those heights again as the Ivorian will also miss the final with an ankle injury. Diminutive Tanzanian play maker Mrisho Ngasa is likely to be rewarded with a place in the first team for his match winning performance against Vita.

anga too have injury concerns of their own with Juma Abdalla and Nizar Khalifan all ruled out. They will, however, be boosted by the return to the first team of goalkeeper Yaw Berko. The losers of this final will be consoled by US$30,000 (Sh2.5m)

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