YOUNG Africans have at least three weeks, from today, before they take on Egypt’s Pyramid, and away from home, in the CAF Cup tie.
The Pyramid, Young Africans match is scheduled in Egypt on 3rd next month (November) and the return leg is likely to be played in Dar es Salaam after a fortnight.
Young Africans are lucky to start away from home in Egypt. Past experience show that whenever Tanzanian soccer clubs are paired against Egyptian clubs, they always start at home and finish away from home.
Such arrangement has always tended to provide advantage to Egyptian soccer clubs and that’s why Young Africans must count themselves lucky for being provided with such a fixture. The three weeks are actually more than enough for Young Africans to work on the magical four S (speed, strength, stamina and suppleness) which are extremely important at this stage of the tournament.
Young Africans were paired by the Egyptians over the weekend in a draw held in Cairo, Egypt. The shuffling of the pack was necessary after a couple of African clubs, including Young Africans, were knocked out of the continent’s premier soccer club tournament, the Champions League.
The Tanzanians were knocked out by Zambia’s Zesco and have now been provided with a lifeline in the CAF Cup tournament. Clubs knocked out of Champions League, but beyond the preliminary rounds are usually provided with a lifeline in the lesser continental tournament, the CAF Cup.
Young Africans’ arch, soccer rivals, Simba, were however, not so lucky as they were knocked out of the Champions League in the preliminary rounds against their Mozambican counterparts. Young Africans will have to work extremely hard, starting this weekend, if they want to upset the Egyptians in their own backyard.
But they know they cannot succeed in such a feat if they don’t work hard on their magical four S. Working on the magical four S is critical, especially when they are expected to play in their opponents’ den and before their 12th player, namely, their home fans.
And because Pyramid would be playing their first match against Young Africans at home, they are expected to work very hard in order to ensure that they score as many goals as possible to cushion them in the return leg match in Dar es Salaam a fortnight later.
And for the Pyramid to beat Young Africans, comfortably, they are very much likely to play attacking football, from the start of the match to the end. What this means is that for Young Africans to stop the Egyptians from overrunning them, they would also have to defend in numbers.
And we all know what that kind of game is likely to lead Young Africans to, defeat, hence the need avoid defensive football which is a recipe for defeat. Therefore Young Africans would have to employ Total Football (all in attack and all in defence).
But again, they cannot employ such a system throughout the match if their players are not well armed in strength, stamina, speed and suppleness. That is why working on the magical four S is critical for Young Africans’ success against the Pyramid and in their own backyard.
Playing in the CAF Cup having been knocked out of the Champions League is not new for the Jangwani Street club. In fact, the latest outing is the third that Young Africans are involved in, and it would be a tragedy if they failed, this time around, to go beyond the group stages of the tournament.
They need to bear in mind that they are presently in this tournament simply because of the good work that was done by their arch soccer rivals, Simba, last season, when they went beyond the group stages of the Champions League.
Therefore, Simba’s sterling performance last season allowed Tanzania to field two teams in the Champions League’s category.
Therefore for Young Africans to secure Tanzania’s present position in the continental clubs tournaments, they need to play for Tanzania by going beyond the group stages so as to prove to the continent’s soccer governing body, CAF, that Tanzania did not only deserve to get the two places in the Champions League, but they also need to keep it.
But that is only possible if Young Africans are more than strong not only to keep the Egyptians at bay, but also to beat them in their own backyard, hence lighten their work in Dar es Salaam a fortnight later. Young Africans know, down in their hearts of hearts, that it is quite possible for them to beat the Egyptians at home if they prepared hard for the match.
In fact, if there is any rivalry Young Africans need to peddle around, especially against their arch rivals, Simba, it is not their presence in the continental club tournament (while Simba are out), but rather in beating the Egyptians in their own backyard.
Yes, Young Africans need to show their arch soccer rivals that they can also do what they did in 1996 when they knocked out Zamalek in their own den in the champions league after drawing one all in Dar es Salaam.
When Simba beat Zamalek, their chief coach was former Kenyan international, James Aggrey Siang’a, who passed on, on September 18th 2016 after celebrating his birthday.