Azam keep faith with Youssouph Dabo and back him in the transfer market

By Michael Mwebe , The Guardian
Published at 07:54 AM Jun 21 2024
Photo: Agencies
Azam FC head coach Youssouph Dabo.

THE writing had appeared to be on the wall for coach Youssouph Dabo following Azam’s embarrassing defeat at home to Namungo in October.

The defeat was preceded by another painful one against title rivals Young Africans. A change of coach was recommended by some influential leaders and although that was not a final decision, it set the wheels in motion for Dabo to be replaced.

Dabo’s saving grace was the club’s hierarchy failing to reach a consensus that a change was necessary at that stage of the season.

He was new to the Premier League and there were question marks over his CV, which according to Tanzania Premier League Board regulation did not allow him to be recognized as the head coach instead his assistant Bruno Ferry had to be the front face of the technical bench.

Despite that regulatory challenge, Azam still acknowledged Dabo as their head of the technical bench and he had a pretty decent season.

The Senegalese usurped Simba to secure CAF Champions League football. Azam qualified for the CAF Champions League by finishing second despite having to do without a recognized centre forward for the last part of the campaign.

There was an early exit in the CAF Confederation Cup, Federation Cup, and Union Super League heartaches. Bumps on the road.

Dabo was never going to be a magic wand, but rather an important cog in a project that needs time to get Azam back to the top. He is still moulding a squad capable of meeting his demands though, and it is crucial he is backed for next season.

The general consensus is that extra quality is needed in key areas of the squad while tough decisions need to be made on the futures of certain players.

Perhaps and more likely is that Dabo might have not achieved all the club’s short-term goals, but continuity is important and it is encouraging to see the club sticking to long-term plans for once.

For many seasons, Azam have tended to go through at least two coaches in a season. Changes were quickly made whenever there was a blip in form to the detriment of continuity and long-term targets.

Dabo going into his second full-term season clearly shows the club appear to have modified their approach and perhaps have even learned from previous mistakes.

Azam have acted unusually quickly in the transfer market to reward Dabo for the progress made, which could leave them at an advantage next season.

The arrival of the Ivorian duo of attacking midfielder Franck Tiesse and defender Yoro Mamadou Diaby, Colombian midfielder Ever Meza from Leones and another Colombian striker Jhonier Blanco indicates that the club is giving Dabo such early and committed support.

It is a clear indication Azam are aiming for success. There is an optimism within the club that they will do better next season.

The former Teungeuth coach ideally wants the entire squad present and ready to absorb his new tactics in a bid to hit the ground running and start the season strongly.

Moving early in the transfer market means there is a chance to get the work done on the training ground early to start the season strongly.

It’s important to try to take advantage of pre-season. Getting the business done early is good for the coach, good for the team, and good for the club.

It is good for all the clubs to prepare in the best way. The pre-season is a key moment for any club wishing to do well, and, of course, they are going to try to take advantage of it.

Always in pre-season the aim is to achieve your best level physically and tactically and to know all the details that we will translate to the team. And, of course, these kinds of matches help you to put the points across. 

Obviously, it is going to be important to have demanding matches in the pre-season to achieve these levels.

The club's transfer window activity suggests Azam have a well defined calendar and goals for the 2024/25 season. With Champions League ambitions and the need to stay ahead of those reinforcing below them

While there is little chance they can compete with the likes of Al Ahly and Esperance at the continental stage, winning the league is a reasonable target, as is qualifying for and emerging from the Champions League group stages.