Two clubs with plenty of history now have an opportunity to claim their first trophies on the continental stage when the first leg of the 2022-23 CAF Confederation Cup final kicks off in Dar es Salaam between Tanzanian champions Young Africans and Algeria’s USM Alger on Sunday. Both clubs have a combined thirty-seven domestic championships to their name but a Confederation Cup trophy would be a deserved accolade for either club, both of which have a large amount of supporters and traditions of success. The first leg will take place at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium where Young Africans are undefeated during their Confederation Cup campaign.
With Yanga hosting the first leg, head coach Nasreddine Nabi publicly stated his desire to get off to a great start and see his team perform at their best in the attack. Tanzania is fully behind the club’s efforts with president Samia Suluhu Hassan offering travel accommodations for the return leg in Algeria and the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium is set to be packed to its 60,000 capacity for the first leg with tickets sold out.
The only notable player who will not participate for Yanga is Ugandan midfielder Khalid Aucho, who is due to serve a two-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. Congolese midfielder Yannick Bangala and Tanzania national team player Mudathir Yahya provide plenty of defensive cover for the absence of Aucho and will need to perform at their best to allow Yanga’s talented attack to thrive. Fiston Mayele, another member of the club’s Congolese group, is co-leading top scorer in the Confederation Cup with plenty of speed to trouble the USMA defense.
Stephane Aziz Ki should be in the eleven to support Mayele while Zambian attacker Kennedy Musonda and Mayele’s compatriots Jesus Moloko and Tuisila Kisinda are the main candidates to attack from the wings. Yanga’s defense continues to be very solid with Tanzania national team regulars Ibrahim Hamad and Yanga captain Bakari Mwamnyeto operating as the central defenders in front of Mali national team goalkeeper Djigui Diarra, a shot stopper with plenty of experience in important matches from his time with the Malian setup.
USMA head coach Abdelhak Benchikha experienced a 2022-23 season that featured highs and lows, starting the season as coach of Moroccan club RS Berkane where he was dismissed for poor results before coming in to give USMA a boost. The tactician’s experience continues to be valuable for Les Rouges where Benchikha led his team past Moroccan club ASFAR and Ivorian champions ASEC Mimosas in the knockout stages to reach the final. The 59-year-old acknowledged the pressure of the occasion but stated it would be an honor to bring the Confederation Cup trophy to his country where he has experience coaching all of Algeria’s top clubs including CR Belouizdad, ES Sétif and USMA’s local rivals MC Alger.
USMA have proven they are capable of absorbing plenty of pressure without conceding in hostile environments, something that is achieved due to the leadership of central defender Zineddine Belaid. Deep-lying midfielder Oussama Chita and right back Saadi Radouani are other players who continue to contribute to the club’s defensive success.
The USMA attack is talented but is not reaching their potential in domestic league play despite the presence of striker Aymen Mahious and Botswana national team forward Tumisang Orebonye. Both attackers are physically strong players who benefit from a direct style of play by winning aerial duels on set pieces and crosses. USMA are boosted by the return of talented playmaker Abderrahmane Meziane who is in Tanzania after missing the semifinals against ASEC due to injury. Meziane has six goals in all competitions this season and also can provide the service that Mahious and Orebonye require to score goals.
More information on the match from African media is in the links below.