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FILE PHOTO: Players of Tanzanian side Young Africans (Yanga) arrive for a training session in Da es Salaam. PHOTO: X/YoungAfricansSC

Tanzania’s Young Africans eye historic Champions League upset against Mamelodi Sundowns

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Last season, Tanzanian club, Young Africans suffered heartache after coming close to lifting its first major continental title.

Young Africans, or Yanga, as they are affectionately known, lost a dramatic CAF Confederation Cup final to Algeria’s USM Alger. The Tanzanian side secured a 1-0 win in its second leg but a 2-1 defeat at home in the first leg meant they lost the tie on the away goals rule.

Young Africans emerged stronger this season. This time, they roared through the qualifying rounds and booked a place in the group stage of the CAF Champions League. Despite a slow start in Group D, they eventually found their footing and managed to qualify for the quarterfinals.

A photo of the CAF Champions League trophy. /Getty Images

Now, into the quarterfinals of Africa’s premier club competition for the first time, the current Tanzanian champions hope to become the first side from East Africa to win the African Champions League. South African giants, Mamelodi Sundowns stand in Yanga’s way.

Sundowns are undoubtedly one of Africa’s biggest clubs. Dominant at home, they have won their domestic league for the last six seasons in a row. They also won the Champions League in 2016 and are the current holders of the African Football League title.

As formidable an opponent as Sundowns are, Young Africans club president Hersi Ally Said assured fans that the team is ready for a major battle to advance to the last four.

Ally stressed that home advantage and the crowd could play a big part in Yanga potentially securing a decisive advantage. Young Africans will host the first leg in Dar es Salaam on March 29-30. The second leg takes place in South Africa on April 5.

“For us, Young Africans, as a club, this is historic to be in the quarterfinal and advancing to the semifinal,” Ally said in a video message. “We need members and fans of our club to come out in numbers and support the team during the home leg that will begin here.”

“That game can be one of the chapters in the club making history in the quest to advance to the semifinal, final, and win the title.”

Young Africans may not have faced Sundowns before, but the team hopes to replicate the results of their last encounter against a South African side in CAF club competitions.

During last year’s Confederation Cup, the Tanzanian side ran out 4-1 aggregate winners against Marumo Gallants in the semifinal, winning both home and away legs.

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