AN interesting battle for dominance in the Mainland Premier League continues this weekend as big guns, Simba, Yanga and Azam FC, get down to a serious search for three points at different venues.
Defending champions, Simba, have a tricky date against Mwanza's Toto African at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, while Azam will be away to JKT Mgambo at the Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga the same day.
Yanga, currently at the top of the standing, will be in action on Sunday against Tanga's Coastal Union at the Mkwakwani Stadium. Although there will be several more matches in the domestic top flight event the same weekend, the three matches involving the big guns stand to attract plenty of attention from fans based on their results' ability to affect the title race.
Simba will, in particular, be keen on putting their campaign back on track after suffering a shock 2-0 loss to Mtibwa Sugar at the Jamhuri Stadium in Morogoro last weekend. It certainly turned out to be a painful defeat considering that it ended the defending champions' unbeaten run in the league that stretched to 11 matches.
Simba were consequently pushed to the third position following Azam's 1-0 victory over Arusha's JKT Oljoro and for that matter, a win over Toto African is crucial to Simba's attempt to regain dominance. Should Simba dispatch Toto African, they will boost their points' tally to 26 and stay level with leaders, Yanga and the goal difference will determine the one that will, at least temporarily, claim the driver's seat.
But Yanga have a chance to consolidate their position at the top of the standing if the Jangwani Street side will overcome Coastal Union at the latter's backyard tomorrow. An encounter with Toto African, however, remains a tricky task for Simba given that the Mwanza-based side has been posing much trouble to Simba, particularly when the two teams meet at Toto's backyard, CCM Kirumba Stadium.
Toto, coached by John Tegete, has had a largely disappointing spell this time and nothing but three points in today's match will revive the team's hopes of maintaining its presence in the league. Simba will badly need a win to appease their disappointed fans, who are still trying to get over the bitterness caused by the previous weekend's defeat and the Msimbazi Street side is expected to come out with all guns blazing.
Azam are also equally keen on re-establishing themselves as serious contenders for silverware and after the team scrapped through to a 1-0 victory over Oljoro at the former's venue on Wednesday, the ice cream makers will be keen on improving their campaign with another win.
Azam's head coach, Stewart Hall, has refused to label his side as title challengers despite the mid week victory and had preferred to focus on the team's improvement in performance particularly in the second phase.
The ice cream makers, though, are up against the wounded and unpredictable JKT Mgambo, who are reeling from a 2-0 defeat to Yanga in their latest assignment and with the Tanga side still yearning for a successful debut spell in the top flight and playing the match at its backyard, it could prove to be a hard nut to crack to Azam.