FAILURE to follow the coach's instructions has been mentioned as a crucial factor behind Yanga's defeat at the hands of Burundi's Atletico in the opening match of this year's Kagame Cup at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.
Yanga's newly appointed head coach, Belgian Tom Saintfiet, was a deeply disappointed man after the final whistle as he witnessed his new side succumb to the defeat and eventually, experienced a rather frustrating start to its title defence campaign in the event.
The hosts and defending champions were looking forward to commanding a winning start but they met a formidable Burundian outfit that covered every blade of grass and fully exploited two chances to silence the home side's fans.
And Saintfiet hardly minced words when assessing his side's performance in the group C match, saying his players' failure to follow instructions contributed to the loss.
I'm very disappointed because the team did not follow my instructions. In the first half, it was okay, but in the second half, the team did not play well," said the visibly frustrated Belgian.
"In the second half, the (Yanga) players were cold whenever they reached the 16 metres area. We had some attempts from Haruna (Niyonzima), Shamte (Ally) but they were not precise," he added.
Saintfiet hardly hesitated to praise Atletico, saying the Burundian side was a formidable opponent and played extremely well in either half. The Belgian looked to have knowledge of Atletico as he said the team's performance against Yanga was not a fluke, considering that the Burundian side has also been performing well in continental assignments.
Yanga, were seemingly determined to be in control of the match, when they went close in the very first minute of the match after striker, Jerry Tegete, was released inside the Atletico box but his weak shot was saved by the Burundian side's keeper, Saidi Ndikumana.
But that happened to be the only meaningful attempt by the hosts as Atletico wrestled control and attacked relentlessly through the flanks to keep Yanga's Ghanaian keeper, Yaw Berko and the rest of the team's defence, quite busy.
The Jangwani Street side, which was backed by its fans that attended in huge number, deployed a 4-5-1 approach in the first half, in which a four-man defence of right fullback, Juma Abdul, left fullback, David Luhende and central defenders, Kelvin Yondani and Nadir Haroub, opted for a compact game in a bid to keep Ghanaian shot stopper, Berko, out of trouble.
But the five-man midfield of Rwandan ace, Haruna Niyonzima, Athuman Iddi, Ugandan Hamisi Kiiza, Rashid Gumbo and Shamte Ally, struggled to break down tightly marking Atletico midfield and defence and for that matter, the Yanga midfield had little room to orchestrate meaningful moves and create chances for striker, Jerry Tegete, who played as the lone man upfront.
The first half saw Atletico opt for a 4-1-3-2 tactic comprising a four-man defence supported by a lone player in front of the defence, while the midfield had three players who threaded passes to the two strikers, Didier Kavumbagu and Christian Mbilizi, apart from supporting the latter upfront when the side was attacking.
The Burundian side's midfield happened to be quite effective down the flanks, particularly on the right where muscular midfielder, Claude Nahimana, was a constant threat to the Yanga defence, forcing the latter's left fullback, Luhende, to avoid overlapping occasionally.
Yanga visibly had lost steam in the second half and the exit of right fullback, Abdul, who had suffered an injury to his right foot early in the half, gave Atletico opportunity to attack much through the left flank, as Yanga coach, Saintfiet, opted to introduce a seemingly slow central defender, Ladislaus Mbogo, in Abdul's place.
The hosts, nevertheless, did manage to attack even after conceding the two late goals scored by Atletico striker, Kavumbagu, in which the introduction of midfielder, Nizar Khalfan and striker, Said Bahanuzi, in place of Tegete and Gumbo respectively, breathed fresh zeal in Yanga, but there was little the substitutes could do in front of the well coordinated Atletico defence.
"We saw that Yanga is a team that likes playing long passes and running a lot, so, we opted for short passes and trying as much to possess the ball and attack. Our team has players with small physique, so, the approach paid off," said Atletico head coach, Cedric Kaze.