In Summary

Azam FC head coach Ettiene Ndayiragije says they are taking the encounter seriously and are optimistic about the best results

Dar es Salaam. Champions Azam Football Club today launch their campaign to defend their title in the East and Central Africa Club championships, Kagame Cup, against Mukura Victory of Rwanda.

The Group B match is scheduled to take place at the Huye Stadium from 4.30pm. Another Tanzanian side, Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC), who are in Group A, will face Atlabara of South Sudan at Kigali Stadium from 2pm.

Azam FC are in Group B with Bandari FC of Kenya and Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA). The two sides today face each other from 2pm at Huye Stadium.

KMC are in Group A together with Rayon Sport and TP Mazembe from DR Congo. Rayon will play TP Mazembe at the Kigali Stadium from 4.30pm today. Zanzibar representatives, KMKM, will be in action tomorrow facing AS Ports of Djibouti from 2pm at the Umuganda Stadium.

Azam FC head coach Ettiene Ndayiragije said they were taking the encounter seriously and they were optimistic they would get good results.

Ndayiragije, who will be guiding the team for the first time in international competitions, said all players are in top form and ready to deliver the best results. “We didn’t have enough time for preparations, but we are sure of faring well. We do not underrate Mukura, who are among the strong teams in Rwandan Premier League after having finished in the third position,” said Ndayiragije.

However, the team will be without key players like Mudathir Yahaya, David Mwantika and Frank Domayo, who have been given time to rest after competing in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon finals) in Cairo, Egypt, with the national soccer team, Taifa Stars. “We have other competent players. We are sure, through them, they will deliver the best results and start well to defend the title,” he said.

“It is also known that Aggrey Morris will also miss the competition due to injury. But we have Donald Ngoma, Yakub Mohamed, Daniel Amoah, Razak Abalora and Bruce Kangwa, who will be in the squad.

“Also on the list are newly signed players, Seleman Ndikumana, Idd Nado and Emmanuel Mvuyekule. With the cooperation of others, the team will shine,” he said.

The tournament is sponsored by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame who has been doing so since 2002. Kagame, a staunch supporter of football, pumps $60,000 (approximately Sh139 million) as a cash prize.