MAINLAND representatives Azam FC face a daunting test in the first leg matches of the 1/16th round of the 2103 Orange CAF Confederation Cup against Liberian opponents, Barrack Young Controllers II.
Azam FC set up the first round tie with the Barrack Young Controllers after comfortably dispatching South Sudan's El Nasir following an 8-1 win in the preliminary round. But Stewart Hall's side will not afford to sit back and relax as they encounter Barrack Young Controllers, who poses a relatively sterner test.
Azam's assistant team manager Jemedari Said told the 'Sunday News' from Monrovia that they will be all out to try and register a win in the first leg. "We're determined to win the first leg and take the pressure off ahead of the return leg at home," Said said.
Said added that Azam played well and won both legs in the preliminary round and they can do the same if they play a good game. Barrack Y.C.II saw off Sierra Leone's FC Johansen with 1-0 victory on aggregate to go through to the first round and Said said they used the match to retrieve some information about the Liberian side.
"The head coach (Stewart Hall) has got friends who work with Craig Bellamy's foundation in Sierra Leone; he used them to get some information about our next opponents," the Azam official said. "I think this will help us, it is a different situation from the preliminary round match tie with El Nasir, whom we're completely in dark before the first leg, which made the fixture a little bit tricky."
Said was confident that the Azam players will not let the chants from away fans distract them. "We normally don't expect fans to cheer us during games. We're used to boos even when we play at our own turf, Chamazi Stadium.
Our strength has always been our performance on the pitch." Hall will pick his squad from Mwadini Ally Mwadini, Malika Ndeule, Luckson Kakolaki, Himid Mao, David Mwantika, Waziri Salum, Joackins Atudo, Salum Abubakar, Kipre Bolou, Jabir Aziz, Ibrahim Mwaipopo and Humphrey Mieno.
Others are Abdi Kassim, John Bocco, Brian Umony, Kipre Tchetche, Seif Abdallah, Mcha Hamis, Aishi Manula, Gaudence Mwaikimba, Selemani and Humud. Second leg matches has been fixed for the weekend of April 5-7 with the winners advancing to the 1/8th round.