Bandari face must-win game against Azam
Eager to qualify for the Cecafa Kagame Cup quarterfinals on their debut, Bandari have their work cut out when they take on wounded champions Azam in today's do or die Group B match at Huye Stadium, in Butare at 4.30pm.
The domestic cup winners have found themselves in a precarious position after failing to win their two opening matches.
Bandari, who are currently third in the group with two points, drew 1-1 with leaders and Ugandan champions KCCA their first match before sharing the spoils with Rwandan outfit Mukura Victory Sports (2-2).
But just like the dockers, the Tanzanian side also complicated their qualification chances after falling 1-0 to KCCA on Tuesday to set up a crunch tie today.
And with the group permutations, desperate Bandari face a must-win game against Azam, a side that could progress to the last eight even with a draw depending on the result between KCCA and Mukura at 7 pm.
Though tricky, a bullish Bandari coach Bernard Mwalala remains optimistic of making it to the quarterfinals despite their winless run in the competition.
"In football, anything is possible. I think mathematically it is still possible to qualify. We have fate in our own hands, so it will be a do or die on Friday," said Mwalala.
Reflecting on their 2-2 draw against Mukura in their last match, the former Kenyan international compared the performance to the ongoing African Nations Cup in Egypt where underdogs have caused a lot of upsets.
He urged his charges to take lessons from the continental showpiece as they lock horns with fancied Azam.
“I was not surprised with the result of the match because we have seen even in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations underdogs beating the so-called favourites," said Mwalala.
"This is a learning lesson for my players because they underestimated our opponents. We now must do everything possible to improve to get all the three points in our last group match against Azam."
Meanwhile, Gor Mahia captain Haron Shakava will face a late fitness test ahead of Sunday's final Group D match against KMKM, at the Umuganda Stadium in Rubavu.
The lanky defender missed K'Ogalo's 2-0 win over Djibouti's AS Ports on Wednesday due to a virus and will be assessed ahead of kick-off.
"He had been struck down by illness but he's improving. We hope he will be available for the final group game," said Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay, who also appeared to have a flu.
"I haven't been feeling well since I arrived here, but I'm at least feeling better after getting some medications."
Today's matches (Group B)
Bandari v Azam-Huye Stadium (4.30pm)
KCCA v Mukura-Huye Stadium (7 pm)
Tomorrow (Group A)
Atlabara v TP Mazembe-Kigali Stadium (4.30pm)
Rayon Sports v KMC-Kigali Stadium (7 pm)
Sunday (Group D)
Gor Mahia v KMKM-Omuganda Stadium (2.30pm)
AS Ports v AS Maniema-Omuganda (4.30pm)
Already qualified quarterfinals teams: Gor Mahia, Rayon Sports and APR
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