Mafunzo FC replace Azam in Tusker Cup
Newly crowned Zanzibar soccer champions Mafunzo football team has replaced Azam FC in this year’s edition of the Tusker Cup championship to be held in Dar es Salaam mid next month.
The Tanzania Football Federation’s technical director, Sunday Kayuni, said Azam have pulled out of the tourney despite being chosen by the soccer federation.
The Tusker championship that kicks off in Dar es Salaam on December 14 will be competed by six teams, two of them from outside the country.
Kayuni said Azam’s withdrawal is based on shortage of sufficient time to prepare the team to meet the challenge of the event.
He said the selection of Mafunzo team has been based on written communication by the Zanzibar Football Association that requested to have at least one of their teams to feature in the tourney.
“It has been a blessing in disguise as Azam pulled out and we subsequently replaced them with a team from Zanzibar. Earlier we made a big oversight not to choose a team from Zanzibar for the tournament,” said Kayuni.
He said other teams should not blame TFF for the team selection as the entire process of which team should feature in the tourney depends on the prevailing circumstances and the sponsors’ interests.
Mafunzo joins other teams, namely Simba, Mtibwa Sugar and Mainland champions Yanga.
Mtibwa Sugar are reigning champions and have automatic eligibility to feature in the tourney.
The sponsors have earmarked 40m/- as the prize package to the eventual winners of the tourney, half of the amount to the losing finalists and third placed team have 15m/- to take home.
Since the tournament was inaugurated in 2001 no foreign team has won the title, Simba being the local side that has posted four wins in a row up to 2004.
Other previous winners are Young Africans, Mtibwa Sugar and Kagera Sugar.