How Azam could line up in 2023/24 with new signings including Feitoto

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Feisal Salum during his unveiling. (Image:AzamFC)

Last season, Azam finished third in the league, 19 points behind champions Young Africans and 14 points shy of first runners up Simba. They reached the Federation Cup final after edging out Simba in the semi finals but lost 1-0 to Young Africans to end up trophyless for a third season.

The Chamazi based side will soon be reporting back for pre-season as they prepare to begin a new campaign. They will be eager to right the wrongs of the last campaign.

Getting back to being a side capable of not only  competing but winning titles requires Azam to add to their armoury, a process already started by the arrival of Feisal Salum from city rivals Young Africans and Gambian winger Gibril Sillah from Moroccan giants Raja Club Athletic.

The squad rebuilding has already seen Bruce Kangwa, Aziz Kader, Kenneth Muguna, Roger Kola, and Cleophace Mkandala depart. The club also parted ways with coach Kally Ongala, Aggrey Morris, Spanish Goalkeeping  coach Dani Cadena and  fitness Coach Dr. Moadh Hiraoui as part of their technical bench restructuring.

Below, we take a speculative look at how Azam could be lining up by the time the new NBC Premier League season begins in August based on their transfer business so far.

GK: Idrissou Abdulai

There is no disputing Idrissou Abdulai will be starting between the sticks for Azam next season after cementing replacing Ali Ahmada in the second half of last season.

RB: Lusajo Mwaikenda

The question surrounding Lusajo Mwaikenda is a difficult one. On the one hand, capable of being deployed effectively at either right-back or the right side of the center-back pairing, makes him an invaluable squad member. But questions regarding his ability to push the team forward are valid.

Still, Mwaikenda is likely to continue as the first choice ahead of the more natural full-back Nathaniel Chilambo unless Azam plan to bring a more experienced right full-back as an upgrade on their current options.

LB: Cheick Sidibe

There is little doubt that Cheickh Sidibe would be starting in the left fullback position if Azam completes the deal for him. He comes as a direct replacement for Kangwa who was the first choice left fullback despite the emergence of Pascal Msindo who is still considered raw. 

CB: Daniel Amoah

Into his eighth season at Azam, Daniel Amoah is now the Tanzanian Premier League longest-serving foreign player. The Ghanaian centre back joined Azam from Medeama FC in 2016.

Amoah is an undisputed key figure in the Azam XI; a fact that was made plainly clear with yet another contract renewal this week.

CB: Malickou Ndoye

The Senegalese centre back was sidelined for much of last season. He was restricted to nine league appearances but it appears coach Dabo who knows him very well considers him an integral part of his squad next season. It is for this reason he has been rewarded with a contract extension that keeps him at Azam until 2025.

Despite the advantage of having worked with coach Dabo at Teungueth FC, Ndoye will face competition from Abdallah Kheri and Edward Manyama.

DM: Sospeter Bajana

Sospeter Bajana had another strong season in Azam’s shirt, keeping out Nigerian import Issa Ndala as the preferred option in the midfield alongside James Akaminko.

Unsurprisingly he was linked with a move to Simba but ended up among the first of the stars of the last campaign to be tied down to a new contract in a show of his worth to the Ice cream makers.

Prince Dube has lost some of his clinical firepower in front of goal after struggling with a set back of injuries but he is still the out and out first choice centre forward for Azam. This can only change if Azam.

DM: James Akaminko

The Ghanaian central midfielder took time to settle before establishing himself as an important  member of the first. He made 28 league appearances, scoring once and assisting five times.

His performances have been rewarded with a contract extension and is certainly looking forward to continuing being a key figure in the squad next season.

AM: Feisal Salum

One of Azam’s primary reasons for chasing Feitoto is his versatility: the Zanzibari has played in a variety of different roles for both Taifa Stars and Young Africans, and Azam will be keen to test him in the midfield as much as they might upfront.

LW: Gibril Sillah

The Gambian international is almost guaranteed to be in the Azam’ starting eleven after his $70,000 arrival from Raja Casablanca was confirmed. The 24-year-old can play as a right winger, left winger, attacking midfielder or centre-forward.

The winger who was on loan to another Moroccan club JS Soualem ended the campaign with seven goals and four assists in the Botola Pro league last season.

RW: Abdul Sopu

With Ayoub Lyanga, Iddy Selemani ‘Nado’, Kipre Junior and Abdulhamis Suleiman ‘Sopu’ all available for selection as wide players, this one is a pleasant headache for coach Dabo.

Kipre’s pace and dribbling skills make him a nightmare for defenders but his final decision making is something that needs to improve and so Sopu might play ahead of the Ivorian speed merchant courtesy  of his workrate and better finishing.

ST: Prince Dube

He started so well in his debut season, scoring goals for fun before a series of injuries set him back. The past two seasons have seen a deep in his clinical form in front of goal. With just twelve goals in the last two campaigns it is understandable if the club is looking to purchase a forward of higher stature – but  Dube’s importance to Azam cannot be taken lightly.

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