21 April 2016

Tanzania/Tunisia: We Lost to a Better Team - Azam

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

AFTER being dumped out by Esperance of Tunisia in CAF Confederation Cup, Azam head coach, Stewart Hall admitted the defeat, saying they lost to the best team in the continent.

Esperance demonstrated why they are ranked 342 places above Azam in Africa by winning 3-0 on Tuesday to reach the CAF Confederation Cup playoffs. They came back from a 2-1 first leg loss to 'Ice cream makers' in the first leg encounter at the Azam Complex in Chamazi, Dar es Salaam some two weeks ago, to win 3-0 and progress 4-2 on aggregate.

Azam failed to defend their slim advantage and despite fighting gallantly to hold their host to a goalless at half-time but in the second period the home side cut loose to end Azam's hopes of an upset.

After having a first-half goal disallowed for offside in the last 16 second leg, Esperance went ahead three minutes into the second half when Saad Bguir converted a free-kick.

Haythem Jouini doubled the lead just past the hour and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef put the overall outcome beyond doubt with a third goal nine minutes from time. Azam were handicapped by the absence of three regulars.

Injuries ruled out Ivorian striker Kipre Tchetche, whose round of 32 hat-trick is the only one in the competition this year, and compatriot and centre-back Pascal Wawa. Industrious Taifa Stars fullback Shomari Kapombe is being treated in Johannesburg for a pulmonary embolism after suffering chest pains.

Reacting to a defeat, Briton tactician credited their opponents, saying they played well especially in the second half and deserved to win. He also told the club's official website, www.azamfc.co.tz that his charges committed some mistakes and their opponents capitalised on them to win easily.

Hall singled out two goalkeeping mistakes by first choice keeper, Aishi Manula, which awarded the host two goals. However, he kept his faith in the youthful goalie, saying it was only technical mistakes and the keeper will come strong.

The coach said that a ploy to confuse the goalkeeper from the set piece caught up with Manula who was slightly out of position after setting up his wall right to concede the first goal before again dropping a ball from the corner kick for a second.

Hall was quick to defend his keeper, "He made some great saves to deny Esperance clear goal. He is a great goalkeeper ... he is still learning."

Meanwhile, Kipre Tchetche's hat-trick he converted against South Africa's Bids has not been reached by any other player despite Azam sad exit to the CAF Confederation Cup in Tunis.

No player had managed a hat-trick in the Confederation Cup matches that played in various venues on Tuesday. Tanzanian envoys qualified for the best of 16 stage after eliminating South Africans 7-3 on aggregate.

Azam sealed a 3-0 victory in South Africa before finishing off their opponents with 4-3 win in Dar es Salaam, a match that the Ivorian striker netted the tournament's first and only hattrick. Azam, despite making an exit, was among the teams that had rocked Africa football for beating one of Africa soccer giants, Esperance, 2-1.

Ranked 3rd in Africa, Esperance were favourite to win over 345-ranked Azam, hence losing in Dar es Salaam stunned the entire football fraternity.

The trip to Tunis had many misfortunes to the Tanzanian envoys, as the team lost the services of their key players, include the hat-trick hero, Tchetche. The Tunis club, winners of all the CAF competitions except the Confederation Cup, qualified 4-2 on aggregate.

In another development, the draw for the 2nd 1/8th round of the Orange CAF Confederation Cup 2016 will take place today at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt at 14H00 local time (12H00 GMT).

The winners of the 1/8th round of the Orange CAF Confederation Cup will be pitted against the losing clubs of the 1/8th round of the Orange CAF Champions League, to determine the eight clubs for the group phase.

The first leg matches will be held on the weekend of 6-8 May 2016 and the second leg from 17-18 May 2016. The draw for the group phase of both the Orange CAF Champions League and Orange CAF Confederation Cup will be held on 24 May 2016 in Cairo, Egypt.

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