AZAM claimed a historic third Under-20 Premier League trophy with 3-1 penalty shoot-out win over Coastal Union in the thrilling final match of the youth championship at the Karume Memorial Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Goals from defender Samuel Nkomola and Kelvin Friday had seemingly put Azam in a commanding position as they romped to 2-0 lead at the break.
However, Coastal Union responded after the interval as Mohamed Mtindi reduced the deficit two minutes after the hour mark before Ali Idd notched the equalizer for Coastal Union in the 78th minute to send the game into an extra 30 minutes.
Goalkeeper Aishi Mangula, who recently earned senior national team, Taifa Stars, call, was the hero for Azam after he saved three shots from Coastal Union players to win his team silverware. By clinching the youth title, Azam pocketed in 1.5m/-, while Coastal Union got 1m/- for their runners-up finishi.
Simba, who beat Mtibwa Sugar 3-0 in the play-off played earlier yesterday were awarded 500,000/-. The action-packed final witnessed some dazzling and scintillating football, with the two pairs of youngsters showcasing great skills in front of packed venue, and while the first half apparently belonged to Azam, the second were largely bossed by a determined Coastal Union side.
Azam, a club with well established youth soccer system, won the inaugural Uhai Cup in 2008 and defended their title the following year but relinquished it to Ruvu Shooting as the tournament marked its third edition in 2010. They ice-cream makers had spoken of their intent to bring the crown back at Chamazi and achieved their mission with a record hat trick of trophies but this never came on silver plate.
To reach the final, Coastal Union dethroned Simba with a shocking 2-1 victory on Friday, while Azam saw off Mtibwa Sugar after winning 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in regulation time. Dethroned Simba, meanwhile, settled for third place with a massive 3-0 win over Mtibwa Sugar of Morogoro in the play-off at the same venue.
Unstoppable Ramadhan Mkipalamoto notched a remarkable hat-trick as the young Reds, who relinquished their title after conceding a 2-1 defeat against Coastal Union in the semifinal, tore apart helpless Mtibwa Sugar. The Msimbazi Street based youngsters were favourites going into the match and despite dominating the proceedings for the large part of the first half had to wait until the 43rd minute to break the deadlock.
They took a 1-0 lead at the breather. Mkipalamoto doubled Simba's advantage shortly before the hour mark before he put icing on the cake with his third of the day in the 70th minute. He eventually finished the tournament as top scorer.
Other outstanding performers were Azam's Joseph Kimwaga, who emerged overall best player, Mansour Mansour of Coastal Union who was voted best goalkeeper, Coastal Union's trainer Bakari Shime (best coach) and Isihaka Mwalike (best referee). They were awarded 300,000/- each.
The Uhai Cup, which is sponsored by Said Salim Bakhressa under Uhai drinking water, was established in 2008 and is meant to groom stars of tomorrow for clubs and national team.