Tanzania’s flag-bearers in the African Confederation Cup, and newcomers to the African club football scene, Azam FC, kicked-off their campaign in the competition last weekend with a 3-1 win over Al Nasr Juba of South Sudan in the first leg of their preliminary round tie.
Indeed, the victory was something of a milestone for the team dubbed the ‘ice cream makers’ as it marked their first-ever foray into the hotly contested realm of continental club football.
Having now firmly established themselves amongst the aristocratic clubs of Tanzanian football, Azam FC seem like they have their sights set on swiftly joining the top tier of African football.
Granted, although Al Nasr Juba are not exactly a team to leave the opposition quaking in their boots, it still has to be noted that as newcomers, the ‘ice cream makers’ were not overawed by the prospect of making their debut on the African club football stage.
And this encouraging fact will surely stand them in good stead for upcoming challenges during the rest of the season.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that if Azam succeed in catching the eye in the Confederations Cup this year, local football fans will be mightily proud of that achievement.
Local clubs have fruitlessly and at times haplessly tried to stamp their authority on the continental football landscape for quite a while now.
Admittedly, although there are a few exceptions to this disheartening trend, such as Simba’s memorable progress to the quarterfinals of the CAF Champions League in 2003, it has largely been a litany of failures for local clubs in African competition.
The major question though now hovering on everyone’s minds is: can the ‘ice cream makers’ succeed where the often-hyped might of Simba and Yanga have mostly failed?
That is an interesting question which Azam will earnestly seek to answer as this season continues to unfold.
Lloyd Elipokea is a sports commentator