Dar es Salaam — National U-20 soccer team, Ngorongoro Heroes, today faces their Malian rivals in the Africa Cup of Nations whose finals will be held in Niger, next year.
The match has been scheduled to be held at the National Stadium from 4pm and would be officiated at by Comoros referees Soulaimane Ansudane and assistants Mmadi Faissol and Abdoulmadjid Azilani.
The teams will play the return leg on May 20 at the Modibo Keita Stadium, which would be officiated by Algerian referee Lotfi Bekoussa assisted by Mohammed Serradji and Abbes Akram Zerhouni.
The winner of the encounter will qualify for the final round of the qualification before the finals scheduled to be held on February 24 to March 10.
Ngorongoro Heroes head coach Ammy Ninje said they were expecting tough opposition from Mali against whom they recorded a barren draw during the U-17 African Youth finals held last year in Libreville, Gabon.
Ninje said they trained well ahead of the encounter and they are taking the match seriously. The match entrance fee is Sh 3,000 for VIP and sh 1,000 for other stands.
"It is not an easy match... we need to utilize well our home ground advantage... we need support from our fans to show our prowess and finish the job on home soil," said Ninje who has included Mbao FC striker, Habib Kyombo in the squad.
Kiyombo, who plays for local side Mbao, is expected to provide more attacking options for Ninje's squad, after failing to find the back of the net in their previous round clash against DR Congo. The East Africans went through 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 tie on aggregate.
"I understand that we are facing challenges in attacking but we are working on that each day. I'm hoping we will see changes in the coming game.
"We hope that Habibu [Kiyombo] will add something new. He is a good forward and has nine goals in the Tanzania Premier League and six in the FA Cup. He is a quality striker.
"Our defiance appears okay. I'm happy that we didn't concede a goal in the last two games. We are still working to do better," he added.