CORRUPTION in the Mainland Premier League will be the main reason behind Azam FC's failure to win the maiden title, the team's head coach, Stewart Hall, has claimed.
Azam clobbered Coast Region's JKT Ruvu 4-1 at the former's venue, Azam Complex, at Chamazi on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam on Sunday to reclaim the second position in the standing but Hall's assessment of his side's chances to win the trophy, nevertheless, painted a gloom picture.
"Corruption will win the league. Football will not win the league...you know the reasons", he told the 'Daily News' after the match. Hall said corruption in the domestic top flight has been so rampant that soccer stakeholders from as far as the UK are discussing the malice with dismay. "Look, I have been phoned by my friends from UK who are talking about corruption in Tanzanian football.
Everyone knows there is corruption in this country's soccer...we (Azam) will not win the league", disclosed the visibly dismayed English tactician but refused to specifically mention either people or clubs that are involved in the immoral practice.
He was hardly unflinching in his allegations, insisting that dishonest practices are openly done to frustrate Azam's title winning ambitions and that has never been a secret to domestic soccer stakeholders. Hall, for that matter, has become the second premier league coach in a space of just two and a half weeks to complain about corruption in the tournament with both coaches maintaining that the act kills fairness and competitiveness.
Villa Squad's coach, Habib Kondo, cried foul after his side suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of defending champions, Yanga, at the National Stadium in the city on March 17, this year, saying referees are taking bribes to favour the league's big guns.
A visibly irate Kondo was adamant that Yanga's stoppage time winner scored by Ugandan striker, Hamisi Kiiza, was not valid because Villa keeper, Daud Mwasongwe, had the ball in his hands during Yanga's last minute onslaught but the keeper was pushed out of the way by one of Yanga strikers and Kiiza pounced on the loose ball inside the box to score.
Although Hall had previously mentioned that finishing in the second position was Azam's prime target considering the team is keen on representing the country in continental competitions, the team has emerged as a serious contender for the trophy thanks to a string of impressive wins it has garnered in recent matches.
A brace by slippery winger, Mrisho Ngasa, and one apiece by towering striker, John Bocco and industrious Ivorian, Kipre Tchetche, were enough to see Azam fend off challenge from JKT Ruvu, which had previously stunned the former with a well worked goal by dependable goal getter, Hussein Bunu, on the seventh minute.
And Hall was full of praise for his squad's solid performances against hard fighting JKT Ruvu on Sunday, with his side eventually coming out with the resounding win, which has revived hopes of successfully challenging for silverware. "I'm very pleased with my team today. As for the forthcoming games, we will change the tactics and hopefully we will keep on doing well", he said.
JKT Ruvu coach, Charles Kilinda, said the dismissal of experienced striker, Amos Mgisa, who was shown red card by referee, Orden Mbaga, on the 30th minute for a deliberate foul on Azam FC midfielder, Kipre Balou, weakened the Coast Region side.
"The dismissal of Mgisa affected us greatly today. He is an inspirational player and his presence always boosts the team's morale, thus, his early dismissal was definitely a blow", he said. Kilinda said his side conceded cheap goals and wasted so many scoring opportunities as well, adding that they have to go back to the drawing board, restructure their approach and eventually perform well in the remaining five matches.