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Azam in enormous battle against Esperance in CAF Confed Cup

Azam in enormous battle against Esperance in CAF Confed Cup

English coach Stewart Hall admits Tanzanian club Azam face an enormous task on Tuesday when they defend a 2-1 CAF Confederation Cup last 16 lead over Tunisian giants Esperance.

“We are playing against a good team placed third when the African club rankings were released recently while we were in position 345,” he told reporters ahead of the second leg.

Esperance have won four of the five CAF club competitions, the exception being the second-tier Confederation Cup. The Tunis-based ‘Blood and Gold’ are among the favourites to win the African equivalent of the Uefa Europa League this year as they boast a multi-national squad of experienced CAF campaigners.

Azam have never progressed beyond the last 16 in three previous CAF appearances and it would be a shock if they eliminated Esperance at Stade du 7 Novembre in Tunis suburb Rades. It does not help widely travelled Hall, who has coached in India, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Zanzibar and Kenya, that he will be missing several key players.

Ivory Coast-born striker Kipre Tchetche, whose hat-trick in a round-of-32 second leg win over South African side Wits is the only one in the competition this season, is sidelined by injury.

So is compatriot and centre-back Serge Wawa, while Tanzanian full-back Shomari Kapombe is receiving treatment in Johannesburg for a pulmonary embolism. More cheerful news for Hall is that defender Erasto Nyoni, midfielder Salum Aboubakar and captain and striker John Bocco are recovering from injuries and expected to be available.

“We realise there are not many tougher African club football challenges than playing Esperance in Tunisia, but I believe we can beat them again,” said Hall.

Haythem Jouini gave Esperance a halftime lead in Dar es Salaam that was cancelled by Farid Mussa midway through the second half. Just 60 seconds after the equaliser, Ramadhan Singano – the ‘Messi’ of East Africa – struck the first leg winner for a club bankrolled by an ice cream company.

Zambian club Zanaco also play in Tunisia, and are in a less advantageous position than Azam having been held 1-1 at home by Stade Gabesien. Zanaco coach Mumamba Numba believes an attacking approach can rescue a tie in which his side have become underdogs.

“Gabesien are beatable at home. They lacked pace in the first leg and we must capitalise on that weakness,” stressed the coach.

Ghanaians Medeama hope to shrug off poor domestic form – a weekend league loss was the fourth in seven outings – and eliminate Sudanese visitors Al Ahly Shendy after a goalless first encounter.

The best Ugandans Villa can hope for is a consolation win in Kampala after being humiliated 7-0 by 2010 Confederation Cup winners FUS Rabat in Morocco.

Fellow Moroccans Kawkab Marrakech enjoy home advantage over Algerian outfit Mouloudia Oran after a goalless first leg.

Ex- CAF Media Expert. An expert on African football with over 15 years experience ,always with an ear to the ground with indepth knowledge of the game. I have worked for top publications including 7 years at www.supersport.com until i founded www.soka25east.com to quench the thirst of football lovers across the continent. I have trained young upcoming journalists who are now a voice in African football.I have covered World Cup,AFCON,CHAN,Champions League,Confederations Cup,Cecafa,Cosafa,Wafu and many other football tournaments across the World. Founder Football Africa Arena(FAA),Founder www.afrisportdigital.com

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