DAR-ES-SALAAM, May 26 (Reuters) – East African football will be looking to Young Africans for rare success in continental club competition as the Tanzanian club host the first leg of the African Confederation Cup final against USM Alger in Dar-es-Salaam on Sunday.
The region might have produced multiple Olympic gold medallists on the track and road but on the football field it is a different story with no World Cup representation, no Africa Cup of Nations success and a single title in some 60 years of club competition.
Kenya’s Gor Mahia were winners of the old-style African Cup Winners’ Cup 36 years ago, narrowly taking the trophy on the away goals rule, but all other efforts from clubs in the region have ended in vain.
Yanga, however, are confident they can hand Tanzania a first continental title as they take on Algerian opposition over two legs for Africa’s secondary trophy with coach Nasreddine Nabi, originally from Tunisia, this week claiming they have the right strategy and mentality for the task.
Key to success will be the chances created for quick striker Fiston Mayele, the Congolese import whose seven goals have propelled Yanga to the final.
“It will be a historic achievement for Tanzania football and I want to be part of it,” he told reporters this week.
But he will have his work cut out for him, facing a resolute defence with USMA having kept a clean sheet in both legs of their semi-final triumph over ASEC Abidjan of the Ivory Coast.
The Algerians host the second leg of the final next Saturday, June 3, also searching for their first continental title.
The closest they got was finishing as Champions League runners-up eight years ago, losing both home and away to TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the two-legged decider.
“It’s a final that will be played over two legs,” said USMA coach Abdelhak Benchikha on Friday.
“We must not forget that there is another game left for us in Algiers. However, we have to negotiate well this first leg in Dar Es-Salaam to make it easier for us in the second leg.”
Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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