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07.04.2004 Football News

Faisal jets in

By Herald Online
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KING Faysal of Ghana, Dynamos opponents in the Caf Confederations Cup first round, arrived in Harare yesterday boasting of three players who are in their countrys senior national soccer team.

The Ghanaian side also have six players who are in the West African countrys Olympic team which recently qualified for the 2004 Athens Games after beating Zambia.

The team arrived around midday with a delegation of 30, which included 18 players and 12 officials for the first round, first leg tie at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.

King Faysal coach Herbert Addo said he has brought along their dangerman and captain Hamza Mahommed, Yahuza Abubakur and goalkeeper Suraju Mohammed who all play for the Black Stars.

"We have 18 players and three of them are in the senior national team.

"I also left one player behind who is also a national team player because he has gone for trials in Belgium so he could not come here," said Addo.

Other than the three members of the Black Stars, Addo, who joined King Faysal from Hearts of Oak, said his team is also made up of players from their Athens-bound national Under-23 team.

"There are six or so players who play in the junior national team who are here," said Addo.

Attacking players Eric Gawu and Osei Kofi play for the Black Starlets.

Addo said he only joined the side this year but expects his charges to give it their best shot on Sunday.

"I have only joined the side recently but there are some good players in the team including those in the national teams.

"This is our first-ever game in a continental competition.

"Since we have just arrived from a long journey, we are going to loosen up and continue working out until the day of the match," said Addo before the teams training session at the National Sports Stadium B Arena.

Addo joined the Kumasi-based side from top club Hearts of Oak who played Dynamos in the Champions League in 1998.

King Faysal team manager, Alhaji Ahmed Kamel, said their side has been playing some friendly matches to keep in shape since the Ghanaian season has not yet started.

Kamel said his side was unnerved that this was their first tie since they never took part in the preliminary round unlike Dynamos who have taken part in continental competitions before.

"This is our first continental match since the club was formed in 1972 and joining the top league in 1995.

"In all those years, we have never finished outside the top five in the league and hope to win the league this season," said Kamel.

Kamel said more than half of the current players in the Ghanaian junior teams have been drawn from his side.

"We started playing in 1972 in the second league then won promotion to the first league in 1973.

"We have other teams and players playing in the junior leagues who will graduate into the first team.

"I could say more than 50 percent of the players in the junior national teams are our players.

"King Faysal is a young team with the youngest player being aged only 18 years with the oldest being about 27 years," said Kamel.

According to Samuel Otto, a Ghanaian journalist who travelled with the side, King Faysal finished third in the Kine Pharma Premier Soccer League, the Ghanaian equivalent of the local Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.

"Asante Kotoko who are based in Kumasi just like King Faysal won the league last season.

"Hearts of Oak came second and this side was third with Liberty being fourth," said Otto.

King Faysal were once sponsored by a Saudi Arabian king of the same name when they were founded but now have links with German sportswear manufacturer Unisport who are supplying their kit.

The Confederation of African Football have appointed Malawian Henry Chapatsi as the match commissioner while the match officials would be coming from Madagascar.

Meanwhile, the decision by Zifa to have the match played at the National Sports Stadium has not gone down well with the Dynamos executive.

The interim-executive at the club wants the game played at Rufaro where they are hoping to maximise on fans than at the giant stadium.

But Zifa said they wanted to avoid the entry of ghost spectators as witnessed in the game against Savanne Sporting Club in the preliminary round at Rufaro last month.

Dynamos interim secretary-general, Simon Sachiti, yesterday appealed to Zifa not to change the venue of Sundays match from Rufaro to the National Sports Stadium.

Sachiti said since the match would be played during the Easter holidays, it would be unwise to have the match played at the National Sports Stadium as few fans will come to watch the game.

"In fact, Rufaro is our home ground and the majority of our supporters find it easier to come and watch our matches at Rufaro than at the National Sports Stadium.

"The match is also going to be played during the Easter holiday and we dont think it will attract a large crowd if its staged at the National Sports Stadium. So we would like the match to be played at Rufaro," Sachiti said.

When Dynamos played their last international match at Rufaro against Savanne of Mauritius in the return leg of the Confederations Cup preliminary round last month, there was chaos at the Mbare stadium with some top sports officials and journalists being harassed by some overzealous Dynamos fans who were manning the gates.

The Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, also had problems entering the packed stadium.

Dynamos were also reported to have been fleeced millions of dollars during that match which saw only 18 170 fans paying at the gates yet the overall crowd was estimated at between 30 000 and 35 000.

Dynamos grossed $119 million and were left with a net income of $65 million after several deductions but the figures could have easily doubled had the 12 000-plus ghost spectators been accounted for.

It was after these revelations that Dynamos called for a review of the gate-manning system at international matches.

Sachiti said yesterday there would be tight security at Sundays match and there would be policemen at every entry point at the stadium.

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