AZAM FC head coach, Stewart Hall, has sounded cautious on his side's chances to successfully challenge for the title in the Mainland Premier League, saying he is waiting to see how the team performs in the second phase.
Azam laboured to beat Arusha's JKT Oljoro 1-0 in the match played at the former's venue located at Chamazi, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, on Wednesday to climb to the second position in the standing with 24 points from 12 matches, just two points behind current leaders, Yanga.
Hall expressed his relief at getting three points in the Wednesday game and said he was keen on examining how his team fares in the remaining assignment of the league's first phase before reaching conclusion on its position in the title chase. "We are now in the second position (in the standing) and we have one game left (before completing the first phase), so, we will see how we go after that", said the English tactician.
He stopped short of labelling his team title challengers despite the victory and said he is waiting until after the beginning of the second phase to determine the team's chances to win the trophy. "No, we are not title challengers...we will wait until December to see how we fare in the race," he said.
Hall was also less impressed by his team's performance despite coming out victorious against JKT Oljoro, saying the former were timid for the better part of the match because they were avoiding committing costly blunders. "We didn't play well today although we won. We had so many chances but did not exploit them. You know, (John) Bocco is a very good goal scorer but he missed three good chances in the first half," he said. "The players were somehow nervous after getting the goal.
They were extremely cautious not to make any mistake and cost the team, you know, they were very cautious," he added. The ice cream makers' victory has consequently helped them push the league's defending champions, Simba, to the third position as the latter have 23 points from the same number of games.
Azam needed a fourth minute penalty, which was dispatched by Ivorian striker, Kipre Tchetche, to edge JKT Oljoro but the former were forced to defend zealously particularly in the second half to thwart attempts by the determined Arusha side to secure an equalizer.
Azam also had a couple of good chances midway through the second half but strikers, Bocco, and substitute, Gaudence Mwaikimba, wasted the chances as their attempts either went narrowly wide or were parried to safety by Oljoro keeper, Mcheke Musa. Oljoro, however, had an upper hand for the better part of the second half and relentlessly pressed for the equalizer, which almost came deep in the half only to see Mwaikimba come to Azam's rescue as he headed away a lob by Oljoro striker, who was completing a goal mouth melee.
Azam, therefore, have successfully bounced back from a 2-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Yanga last weekend and somewhat salvage their big gun status, which suffered a huge blow considering that the loss to the Jangwani Street side was coming a few days after Azam had lost 3-1 to Simba.