STRIKER Kipre Tchetche scored twice as Mainland's representatives in the CAF confederation Cup Azam FC made a perfect start in the campaign, with a comprehensive 3-1 thrashing of South Sudan side Al Nasir Juba at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.
Abdi Kassim 'Babbi' first half strike put the city tycoons ahead but the visitors cancelled the advantage in the 38th minute through Fabian Elias. The ice cream makers started at a cracking pace with creative buildup from the rear and there was certainly enough in Azam's performance to suggest they warrant a place in the next round of the tournament in this two-legged encounter.
The match will be settled in a return leg match in Juba in a fortnight, in which Azam now need just a draw of any kind. With their bewildering movement, Azam had the capacity to cut their opponents' defence to shreds. Goalkeeper Peter Mida, in particular had a torrid evening when Tchetche and Mieno roamed the visitors' defence, with midfielders Salum Aboubakar and Abdi Kassim providing impressive support.
The home team wasted a host of chances especially in the first half. Khamis Mcha cut inside from his right-wing station and flashed a shot wide. Then Mieno whipped in a cross that was well connected by Abdi Kassim for the opener in the 14th minute.
Afterwards, Azam continued to waste chance after chance with Kassim the main culprit as the visitors switched to a more physical approach. The match nearly went off the hands of Kenyan official, David Omweno who was the central referee and his assistants Peter Keireini and Gilbert Cheruiyot as they waved play on to numerous clear fouls against Azam players.
It forced Ugandan ace striker, Brian Umony and Ivorian midfielder Kipre Balou to limp off the picth early on in the first half. It also forced Azam to retreat, no wonder an equaliser followed with six minutes to the break, when central defenders failed to deal with a long ball in and allowed Elias to sneak in to prod the ball past keeper Mwadini Ally.
Azam wasted chance to reclaim their lead in the 43rd minute when Khamis Mcha fluffed. He raced past defenders and keeper but could not keep the ball close to his feet as he drifted towards the tight angle only to miscue his shot. Kassim wasted another chance just three minutes from the restart, driving into the box but couldn't make the best out of it.
Then holding midfielder Jabir Aziz missed with a follow up shot that came off the cross bar in the 54th minute, another chance went begging a minute latter when Mcha's shot came crushing against the keeper. Azam coach--Englishman Stewart Hall was forced to introduce lanky striker John Bocco, who was coming in after a long spell out of injury for wasteful Abdi Kassim.
The changes upped Azam's activity upfront and Bocco missed with his first shot after an hour mark, when he faked a defender in the right side, drilled a powerful shot that took a slight deflection to a fruitless corner kick. Bocco's header was spilled off by keeper in the 69th minute, off a cross from Malika Ndeule from the left side.
Bocco wasted another chance when his weak header was cleared by the keeper a minute later. Brilliant goalkeeping denied Azam clear goals Kipre Tchetche netted the second for Azam in the 80th minute, connecting home Mcha's cross, then Mieno's low shot came off the post with keeper well beaten in the 86th minute.
Industrious Kenyan Mieno's long defence splitting pass was well tapped in by Tchetche for the third in the last minute of the added minute. In Pemba, host Jamhuri lost 3-0 to St George of Ethiopia in the preliminary round of CAF Champions League encounter. Amode Ukure opened the scoring just after five minutes.
Other goals were netted by Dickson Maria in the 55th minute and Joseph Aguene in the 80th minute. Mainland champions Simba will be at the same National Stadium today to confront Recreativo do Libolo of Angola, in the first leg, preliminary round match of the CAF Champions League.
The Msimbazi Reds spent this week in Arusha busy preparing for the encounter. Simba returned to Dar es Salaam on Thursday morning and their new financier Rahma Al Kharoos 'Malkia wa Nyuki' side by side with Chairman Ismail Aden Rage gave a motivational speeches on Friday.