Azam coach predicts tough return leg

14Mar 2017
Japheth Kazenga
The Guardian
Azam coach predicts tough return leg

AZAM FC stand in coach Iddi Cheche has voiced optimism over his team’s prowess to secure a place in the next stage of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup competition after commanding a narrow but vital 1-0 win over Swaziland’s Mbabane Swallows in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Azam striker Ramadhan Singano (C) battles for possession with visiting Mbabane Swallows duo durng the first leg of CAF Confederation Cup played at the Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday. Azam won 1-0.

Winger Ramadhan Singano scored the only goal to help the hosts stay in pole position before the return leg match which will take place at the weekend.

Cheche admitted the match was a tightly contested affair and it was not easy for the hosts to win the game.

“We opted for changes in the second half and the move helped us secure the win,” Cheche disclosed.

The second leg game, Cheche said, promises to be tough but he disclosed his team has already assessed its weaknesses and will address them with a view to topple the Swaziland team.

A lot needs to be done technically, if Azam are to knock Mbabane Swallows out of the tournament, going by their performance in the Sunday’s match.

The hosts’ defense, which was led by Yakubu Mohamed, was on several ocassions losing possession cheaply during the latter stages of the game and the tendency came close to cost the team.

The visitors, boasting of skilful midfielders and speedy strikers, created several good opportunities few minutes from time, only to be let down by poor finishing.

Azam also managed to create good scoring opportunities in either half but inept finishing proved to be the team’s undoing.

Should John Bocco, who missed the Sunday game because of having sustained an injury, manage to recover before the return leg duel, the striker’s presence in the Dar es Salaam outfit will, certainly improve the team’s pursuit of qualification for the next stage.

Bocco sustained the injury in the Mainland premier league game against Simba at the National Stadium in the city on January 28, in which he scored the only important goal for Azam to help the team emerge victorious.

He, since then, failed to play for his team in Mainland premier league games against Ndanda FC, Ruvu Shooting and Mwadui FC, as well as in the Azam Sports Federation Cup competition’s assignments.

He has already managed to form a good partnership with Ghanaian striker, Yahaya Mohamed, and could prove to be a handful for Mbabane Swallows during the return leg.

Beating Mbabanre Swallows has seen Azam maintain a good record in home games in continental events, should the former pass the fitness test.

Azam beat El-Merreikh of Sudan 2-0 in the first leg duel of the CAF Champions League in the 2015/16 season and the former, then, knocked South Africas’s Bidvest Wits out of the preliminary stage of the CAF Confederations Cup with a 4-3 win at the Azam Complex the following season.

Azam then took on Tunisian giants, Esperance, in the first leg of the tournament and the former edged the latter 2-1 in the first leg duel.