The Dar es Salaam-based club has landed invitation to compete in the ten-day tournament, which features regional heavyweights TP Mazembe, Africa Confederation Cup champions AC Leopards, DC Motema Pembe and AS Vita amongst others.
The Tanzanian outfit’s campaign got off to slow start as they battled to a 1-1 draw with Dragons in a closely contested encounter staged at the Martyrs Stadium last Saturday. The Mainland Premier League side found themselves behind at the break when Nkate Jason outwitted Azam defenders before firing stunning shot past goalkeeper Mwadini Ally at the Martyrs stadium.
But midfielder Jabir Aziz Stima scored a spectacular equalizer few minutes into the second half after being set up by Abdi Kassim ‘Babi’. Azam goalkeeping coach, Idd Mwinchumu, cited fatigue as the main reason for the stalemate but vowed to bounce back against Shark XI on Monday.
Mwinchumu took charge of the Azam team for their opening match against the Dragons in the absence of head coach Stewart Hall who could not travel with the rest of the squad due to lack of DRC visa.**
The English trainer, alongside his right-hand man, Kally Ongala, Dr Paulo Gomez and Ivorian duo of Kipre Balou and Kipre Tcheche, were left stranded in Nairobi, Kenya following visa problems. In Kinshasa, despite displaying some exciting football at times Azam struggled to unlock the defence of their Congolese opponents, a failing which Mwinchumu believed was caused by fatigue and the fact that they were missing a head coach and key players.
Mwinchumu was, however, full of praise for his team after they bounced back to earn a point and suggested that the performance and the outcome could have been even better had Hall and co. been available.
Speaking to bongostaz.blogspot.com, the former Azam player remained confident the team would achieve qualification from the group stages of the competition as they prepare to take on their next opponents, Shark XI FC Kinshasa.
Azam are using the tournament to prepare for their second-leg showing of the Mainland Premier League, set to start in January 2013 and CAF Confederation Cup. The Ice-Cream makers are currently second in the top flight league behind leaders Yanga. They will be participating in the CAF Confederations Cup after finishing the league as runners- up last year.