19 April 2016

Tanzania/Tunisia: Azam FC Out to Make History in Tunis

Photo: Cecafa
Ammy Ali and Mkami Himid Maoof Azam FC tackles Erick Ochieng of Gor Mahia FC (file photo).

Tanzanian envoys Azam FC will be vying for a place in the final qualifying round of the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time in their history as they play Esperance of Tunisia in the return leg today.

Stewart Hall's charges took 2-1 lead from the first leg and would make history if they shut out the Tunisian giants at their own backyard in Tuesday's decisive reverse fixture in Tunis.

The Dar es Salaam tycoons put up a virtuoso performance to come from a goal down and edge out Esperance at the Chamanzi Stadium in Dar es Salaam in the thrilling first leg tie thanks to goals from Farid Mussa and Ramadhan Singano.

A draw of any kind would help Azam nudge through into the next stage, but the Tanzanian outfit must produce a classy performance against the former African champions to get the result. Azam's English coach Hall admits his team face Herculean task as they bid to defend their first leg advantage.

"We are playing against a good team placed third when the African club rankings were released recently while we were in position 345," he told reporters ahead of the second leg. Esperance have won four of the five CAF club competitions, the exception being the second-tier Confederation Cup.

The Tunis-based 'Blood and Gold' are among the favourites to win the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League this year as they boast a multi-national squad of experienced CAF campaigners.

Azam have never progressed beyond the last 16 in three previous CAF appearances and it would be a massive feat if they eliminate Esperance at Stade du 7 Novembre in Tunis suburb Rades. Hall, who has coached in India, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Zanzibar and Kenya, will be missing several key players.

Ivory Coast-born striker Kipre Tchetche, whose hat-trick in a round-of-32 second leg win over South African side Wits is the only one in the competition this season, is sidelined by injury.

So is compatriot and centre-back Serge Wawa, while Tanzanian full-back Shomari Kapombe is receiving treatment in Johannesburg for a pulmonary embolism. More cheerful news for Hall is that defender Erasto Nyoni, midfielder Salum Aboubakar and captain and striker John Bocco are recovering from injuries and expected to be available.

"We realise there are not many tougher African club football challenges than playing Esperance in Tunisia, but I believe we can beat them again," said Hall. Tanzania champions Young Africans will be in action on Wednesday when they visit Egyptian heavyweight Al Ahly.

Yanga left for Egypt on Sunday ahead of Wednesday's round 16, second leg clash against Al Ahly, oozing confidence that they can outplay the eight time winners and progress to the group stage.

The country's torchbearers are seeking a place at group stage for the first time in 16 years, after their last showing in 1998. Yanga came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Dar es Salaam after Amr Gamal opened the scores for Al Ahly early in the game before Ahmed Hegazi turned the ball into his own net for the equalizer midway.

Yanga head coach Hans Van der Pluijm insisted prior to their departure that his squad is capable of upsetting their hosts at the Borg Al-Arab Stadium, Alexandria. "We can win in Egypt though it won't be easy.

We have to be more focused and determined. We will defend first and then we can attack to score," Pluijm was quoted as saying. "But it should be known that we are going to play against Africa's 'best' team.

They are the CAF Champions League all-time winner

TANZANIAN envoys Azam FC will be vying for a place in the final qualifying round of the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time in their history as they play Esperance of Tunisia in the return leg today.

Stewart Hall's charges took 2-1 lead from the first leg and would make history if they shut out the Tunisian giants at their own backyard in Tuesday's decisive reverse fixture in Tunis.

The Dar es Salaam tycoons put up a virtuoso performance to come from a goal down and edge out Esperance at the Chamanzi Stadium in Dar es Salaam in the thrilling first leg tie thanks to goals from Farid Mussa and Ramadhan Singano.

A draw of any kind would help Azam nudge through into the next stage, but the Tanzanian outfit must produce a classy performance against the former African champions to get the result. Azam's English coach Hall admits his team face Herculean task as they bid to defend their first leg advantage.

"We are playing against a good team placed third when the African club rankings were released recently while we were in position 345," he told reporters ahead of the second leg. Esperance have won four of the five CAF club competitions, the exception being the second-tier Confederation Cup.

The Tunis-based 'Blood and Gold' are among the favourites to win the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League this year as they boast a multi-national squad of experienced CAF campaigners.

Azam have never progressed beyond the last 16 in three previous CAF appearances and it would be a massive feat if they eliminate Esperance at Stade du 7 Novembre in Tunis suburb Rades. Hall, who has coached in India, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Zanzibar and Kenya, will be missing several key players.

Ivory Coast-born striker Kipre Tchetche, whose hat-trick in a round-of-32 second leg win over South African side Wits is the only one in the competition this season, is sidelined by injury.

s, and you need a lot of hard work and energy to upset them," added the Dutchman who guided Ghanaian side Berekum Chelsea to the group stage in 2012 where they played against Ahly.

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