AZAM FC Head Coach Etienne Ndayiragije said total sacrifice from his players enabled them to sail into the finals of the 2019 CECAFA Kagame Cup, whose climax is today.
Azam face KCCA from Uganda in the epic final match this afternoon as the former wants to make a remarkable history to retain the title for the third successive time after doing the same last year, by downing Simba SC 2-1 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam. It will be the second meeting of the two teams in this year's Kagame Cup edition.
The two teams met in the group stage in which Azam lost 1-0 and it will provide an opportunity for the 'ice cream makers' to avenge the defeat. The reigning champions outclassed AS Maniema from DR Congo on Friday after 5-4 penalty shootouts triumph.
The two sides played to a scoreless draw after both normal and extra time. Prior to that, Azam smashed TP Mazembe 2-1 to progress into the last four with Obrey Chirwa striking an all important goal for his club but the Zambian missed Friday's encounter due to injury.
Should Azam win today, it will be the first major title for the team's Burundian trainer Ndayiragije, while at the helm of a Tanzanian side. Ndayiragije is also preparing the team to successfully feature in the Mainland Premier League and CAF Confederation Cup.
Reacting to the victory, Ndayiragije revealed that the main secret on the day was total sacrifice by his charges, who put everything on the battle field to ensure that they keep the glittering silverware within a touching distance.
"I congratulate my players for putting into practice what we train. It was not an easy game altogether bearing in mind that our opponents were equally well organised and really very hard to beat until the winner was decided via spot-kicks," he said.
Again, the former KMC and Mbao FC coach said their opponents showcased high level defending abilities and was quick to describe them as a well organised side they played against in the competition.
Elaborating further on today's final, Ndayiragije said he expects a better match than the previous battle and hoped to demolish KCCA to defend the title. He then hailed support received from Azam fans, saying it acted as a driving force towards the team's success.
He urged them to continue supporting the team. Tanzania was also represented by debutants KMC in the 16-team tournament but exited prematurely.
Meanwhile, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) has praised Azam for reaching into the final and wished them all the best in their last match today.