Teams gear up for third edition of SportsPesa Cup
Teams gear up for third edition of SportsPesa Cup
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Teams gear up for third edition of SportsPesa Cup

Representatives of the participating teams are geared up and ready to partake in the third edition of the SportPesa Cup on Tuesday, January 22. 

The week-long competition will kick off at the National Stadium from 2 PM with Kenya's Bandari set to take on Tanzania's Singida United in the opening thriller. 

The abovementioned contest will make way for Yanga Wakimataifa also known as Young Africans when they go head to head against Kenyan side Kariobangi Sharks at 4 PM. 

The winning teams from the two matches will discover the semi-final opponents on Wednesday, January 23 when Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will face Mbao FC, and later on, AFC Leopards square up against Tanzanian giants Simba at the National Stadium. 

SportPesa Tanzania's Director of Administration and Compliance Tarimba Abbas said that it would be a waste if Tanzanian teams allowed the Kenyan sides to deny them an opportunity to play against Everton and are hoping the teams will bring their best game on the day.

"I want to remind everyone here that the winning team in this tournament will host (English Premier League side) Everton," Abbas said. 

It will be a disaster if we allow the Kenyan clubs to grab this privilege for the third successive time."

Gor Mahia has triumphed in the first two editions of this tournament staged in Dar and Nakuru, with wins over AFC Leopards and Simba respectively in the two final matches.

Consequently, K'Ogalo has gone on to face the English club in Dar es Salaam and Liverpool, losing 1-2 and 0-4 on both occasions.

However, following Tarimba's comments, Yanga's Congolese coach Mwinyi Zahera followed suit, insisting he will do everything in his power to defeat Sharks, including fielding his strongest available squad consisting of Ibrahim Ajibu, Kevin Yondani, Feisal Salum and Hereiter Makambo.

Tanzanian clubs have reportedly come under scrutiny for fielding reserves teams in this tournament during the past editions.

"My bosses have told me I have to win the league title, Azam Cup and SportPesa Super Cup this season. Sharks are a quality side who run a lot during the game but we are going to give them a lot of problems," warned Zahera, who was in charge of the team during that 4-0 thrashing by Gor Mahia in last year's Caf Confederation Cup group game.

Yanga are currently enjoying a comfortable eight-point lead over Azam in the Tanzania league standings after 19  matches played.

Mwinyi's threats didn't seem to deter Sharks, however, with the team's assistant coach Collins Omondi warning Zahera that the match will pit 'eleven players against eleven'.

"Football is not played on the stands or the media. We will do our talking on the pitch, we are not actors to talk too much. I have been prepared my team even if the tie goes to penalties" said Juma, whose team was beaten on penalties by Simba during the 2018 tournament.

Bandari head coach Bernard Mwalala was accorded a rousing reception by locals and journalists ahead of his side's clash against Singida.

He represented the club for four seasons and still ranks among the club's all-time scorers, winning three league titles.

"This tournament will expose my young players to international football and I am excited for them because I am confident they will perform very well," Mwalala said.

"We are used to the weather and my confidence stems from the fact that we are still unbeaten in our league."

Singida captain Nizar Khalfan also expressed confidence that his side - which beat Leopards at this stage of the

competition in Nakuru last year - will beat Bandari.

Read more: BREAKING: Gor Mahia land Zamalek in tough CAF Confed Cup draw

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