Azam triumph in teen football

08Jun 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Azam triumph in teen football

THE inaugural Azam Youth soccer tournament has been hailed as good platform for promoting young talents and help the latter become good players in future, some of the participating teams’ coaches have said.

The tournament, which started on Wednesday last week and came to a close on subsequent Sunday, brought together junior outfits from Kenya, Uganda and hosts, Tanzania.

Kenya was represented by LigiNdogo, Uganda fielded Gulu-based Football For Good (FFG) and Tanzania had two teams, Arusha’s Future Stars and Dar es Salaam’s Azam FC.

The participating outfits locked horns in round robin format, with the team that registered more points eventually becoming champions.

Azam FC youngsters made full use of the home ground advantage, winning all of their matches to emerged champions.
Future Stars’ coach, Alfred Itaeli, said his youngsters have learnt a lot in the tournament, given they came up against competent teams from different nations.

“This tournament has been extremely useful to the youngsters as they strive to achieve success in the sport. We played teams from Kenya Uganda and Azam FC, who were the toughest opponents so far…it has helped my youngsters gain experience,” he said.

FFG’s head coach, Dan Wright, said the tournament has been a good experience for his team, given that the side has little opportunity to play competitive games.

“When we came from Gulu, we had no idea the competition will be that much competitive. In Uganda, we don’t go to Kampala where we can play against other academy outfits regularly, thus, playing against Tanzania and Kenya teams has helped us gain a lot,” he said.

Azam FC technical director, Saad Kawemba, disclosed the club is expected to host a big event involving 16 soccer academies’ outfits from across the continent.

Kawemba insisted on the need for proper grooming of young soccer players if teams are to get the best out of the latter in future.

“The youngsters need training and chance to play on regular basis so they can successfully fill the void to be left by the experienced players,” Kawemba said.

“Failure to nurture junior players will see teams depend on foreign professionals, a move that will be detrimental to the outfits’ chances to achieve success.”

Champions and the best individual performers in the tournament were presented with trophies in the closing day, with Azam FC players dominating individual honours.

Azam FC’s Abbas Kapombe won the tournament’s best defender honour and team mate, Shaaban Iddi, won the best striker award.

Iddi also took the top score honour after having drilled in five goals, whereas FFG’s Steven Bongoma won the best midfielder honour.

The best keeper’s award was scooped by LigiNdogo’s Rodgers Asengo, who won plenty of plaudits for his impressive performances between the posts throughout the event.

FFG’s Allan Ganakro walked away with the tournament’s best player honour.Two matches took place in the closing day in which FFG clobbered Future Stars 8-0 in the first match while Azam FC cruised to a 3-0 win over LigiNdogo in a thrilling match played later.

FFG, who were reduced to novices by Azam FC in the match played two days back, were a much improved side in the game against Future Stars.

The Ugandan side made full use of Future Stars’ defensive flaws to record to take a 2-0 lead in the first half and the team never looked back in the second half, putting skilful displays and scoring with ease.

Azam FC youngsters, who had been impressive in the previous games, showcased fantastic footwork to keep LigiNdogoat at bay and command a 2-0 lead at the end of the first half.

The hosts then went on to put the game beyond their opponents’ reach in the second half with a well taken goal by Iddi, who connected home a cross from the right with a spectacular bicycle kick.