YOUNG Africans face an uphill task tomorrow against Egypt’s Pyramid in the return leg of the CAF Cup match in Cairo after going down 1-2 to the Egyptians at the Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza a fortnight ago.
It’s an uphill task because the Egyptians need just a goalless draw to take out Young Africans from the CAF Cup soccer tournament.
Things would have been quite different had Young Africans made good use of their home ground advantage in the first leg encounter. But this is not the first time Young Africans find themselves in this position.
During their participation in the Champions League, they had played a one all draw in Dar against Botswana’s Township Rollers and almost everyone felt that they were out of the tournament.
However, in the return leg match in Gaborone a fortnight later, Young Africans turned the tables against their hosts and proceeded in the second round against Zambia’s Zesco who would later knock them out of the Champions League.
If they succeeded to turn tables against Township Rollers, there is no reason why they should not do the same thing against the Egyptians much as the Pyramid is quite different from Township Rollers. But because Young Africans have already been written off by their own fans, having lost to the Egyptians in their own backyard, they now need to relax and play an all-out attack from the word go.
Yes, they don’t need to employ their defensive formation they used in Mwanza a week ago, because they don’t have to defend anything. In fact, this is the time for Young Africans to employ Total Football, all in attack and all in defence.
But as we all know, the foregoing form of football will only work if they had worked hard on their strength, stamina, speed and suppleness. Unlike what happened in Mwanza a week ago, the pressure to win tomorrow would not be on Young Africans, but rather on the Egyptians.
And because the Egyptians are leading, statistically and also in terms of the Fifa’s away goal rule, if Young Africans press them hard from the start of the game, the Egyptians are very much likely to play a defensive game which could easily play into the hands of Young Africans.
This is a match Young Africans need to work hard on the Egyptians’ minds and that can only work out if they press hard their opponents. Pyramid is very much beatable if Young Africans play their cards well.
Indeed, 1-2 is nothing if Young Africans put everything into attack from the word go and the Egyptians are well aware of the fact that Young Africans is not a small team. But it’s for Young Africans to show the Egyptians that they are no-push-overs, and that can only be done if they take the game to the Egyptians from the word go.
Before their departure for Cairo on Thursday this week, Young Africans said that if the Egyptians were able to beat them in Mwanza, there were no reasons why they should also not reply in kind. Therefore one hopes that Young Africans’ vow to beat the Egyptians in their own pitch would be translated into action.
This is because you don’t issue such a vow, and in public, if you have not prepared yourself well for doing what you have promised your fans that you’re going to do.
Past experience shows that more often than not, our teams have failed to implement their vows after losing at home against their opponents and that is why I’m personally very much worried about Young Africans’ vow this time around. And I have reasons for that, one, Pyramids, as I have already said, is not Township Rollers.
These are Egyptians who are known to have worked hard on their players since they were under ten; and we all saw how good the Egyptians are when they beat us in Mwanza.
Secondly, I don’t have much confidence on Young Africans because just like their arch soccer rivals, Simba, their technical bench never work on the players’ strength, stamina, speed and suppleness.
But if Young Africans’ technical bench under Mwinyi Zahera had really worked hard on the players’ strength, speed, stamina and suppleness in the last ten or so days before they flew of Dar for Cairo, they will beat the Egyptians tomorrow hands down.
But if they did not, as is usually the case with many Tanzanian clubs and national soccer teams, then they should simply prepare themselves for a full return to the local league because it would be quite difficult for them to take out the Egyptians and in their own backyard.
But it would be quite a tragedy for Tanzania if Young Africans, once again, fail to take out the Egyptians. This is because they were our last hope in the continental soccer club tournament. But we all the same wish them all the best.