AZAM FC title aspirations are back on track, thanks to their rather slim 1-0 win over Arusha-based army outfit, JKT Oljoro at the Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
The victory lifted 'ice cream makers' to second in the table and pushed defending champions Simba further down the peck to third. Azam reached 24 points, just two shy of leaders Yanga, while Simba dropped third with their 23 points.
Azam, the 2012 Kagame Cup finalists, have played 12 games of which they have seven wins and drawn three, while conceding two defeats.
Although the game was largely balanced in the first half, Azam were more intent on scoring as they had more close chances. Ivorian striker, Kipre Techtche, scored the lone goal for Azam from a spot kick just three minutes from the kick off.
Azam won the penalty after defender Yasin Juma handled the ball in the box. On resumption, Azam defence was under pressure from Oljoro strikers, who attacked relentlessly through the flanks. Azam attempted to slowly regain their rhythm and pushed forward now and then but were denied by Oljoro defenders that zealously thwarted the attacks.
Azam could have grabbed the second goal when striker, John Bocco, was set up by midfielder, Salum Aboubakary, inside the box but the former's shot was saved by Oljoro keeper, Mcheke Musa. Aboubakary made a powerful run from deep down his side's half, evaded Oljoro defender on the right flank and sliced in a nice pass to Bocco, who disappointingly connected a weak shot that was saved by the keeper.
Oljoro won a free kick on the edge of the area midway through the half after one of their strikers was fouled but the team frustratingly wasted the chance. The Arusha based side continued to press for an equalizer and were close to getting it when they forced a goal mouth melee on Azam box from a corner kick but Azam's towering striker, Gaudence Mwaikimba, headed away a goal bound lob from Oljoro striker.
Mwaikimba then had a glorious chance when he was set up by Bocco at the edge of the area but his shot went narrowly wide. The hosts then were dealt a blow when midfielder, Himid Mao, was shown red card by referee for head butting Oljoro striker. This was Stewart Hall's third game after being re-appointed as Azam coach, following their emphatic 4-1 triumph over Coastal Union and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Yanga last Sunday.
In another match Mtibwa Sugar played host to JKT Ruvu at Manungu ground, Turiani in Morogoro in which the hosts sneaked out with a 1-0 victory. Left back defender Issa Rashid netted the solitary goal in the 22nd minute of the game after he strode past a thick of defenders.
Mtibwa played with two men down after attacking midfielder Vincent Barnabas and Salum Machaku, were given matching orders by referee Ibrahim Kidiwa from Tanga. At the Mkwamani Stadium Coastal union beat Polisi Morogro 1-0 at the 15 minute by Daniel Lyanga, who was set clear by midfielder Suleiman Selembe.