Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Yanga Face Tusker Test

MAINLAND Premier League giants Young Africans are set to offer their fans a perfect day out as they clash with Kenyan soccer champions Tusker FC in an international friendly fixture on an action packed Boxing Day.

The CECAFA Kagame Cup champions are fine-tuning for the second round of the Vodacom Premier League scheduled to kick off later next month. They are also lined up for the Mapinduzi Cup tournament due to kick off next Tuesday in Zanzibar, and the match against Tusker should be a litmus test ahead of the Isles event.

Yanga spokesperson Baraka Kiziguto told reporters ahead of the match that they will use this festive fixture to parade their newly signed players, including Congolese-born Rwandan midfielder Kabange Twite, who joined the club during the mini-transfer window from APR of Rwanda.

Yanga head coach Ernest Brandts is also to assess three youngsters, who have been promoted from the junior squad, namely George Banda, Lehani Kibingwa and Yusuf Abdul as well as already established players. "It will be a good opportunity for our fans to see our team and especially new players, who have been recruited during the mini transfer window," said Kiziguto.

He added that the match will give Brandts a good platform to gauge his entire squad following a monthlong workout. "We're determined to win the Mainland title this season, therefore, the coach is expected to use this game to assess the progress of the training programme."

Tusker arrived in Dar es Salaam earlier this week from Nairobi and they have been scheduled to play several friendly matches on their way to Zanzibar for the annual one week Zanzibar Mapinduzi soccer tournament. They will also encounter Premier League champions, Simba.

According to Tusker FC Director Charles Obwiny, they will be using the tournament and the friendly matches to shape up ahead of the new season with their eyes on defending the domestic cup title for the third year in a row and performing better in the CAF Champions League where they have been drawn against St Michel from Seychelles in the first round.

The Kenyan giants, however, had to leave behind two of their senior players and two newly signed players as confirmed by the team manager, Willis Waliaula. The team manager revealed that goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, defender David Ochieng, newly signed forward Moses Arita and Liberian midfielder Abraham Cokie will miss the friendlies and the Mapinduzi Cup.

Oluoch, Ochieng and Arita are all having engagements with the national team as the Harambee Stars prepare for the return leg of their CHAN qualifier with Burundi in early January, while Cokie is still awaiting a work permit among other documentation, Waliaula confirmed.

"We have travelled without a number of our players, four to be precise; Boniface Oluoch, David Ochieng and the newly signed Moses Arita. The three are engaged with the national team as they prepare for the Burundi game and we felt it unnecessary to interrupt the team's programme," said Waliaula.

"The other one is Abraham Cokie. He is still working to get travel documents, a work permit and a number of other relevant papers. We will miss them while there but ideally there is so little we could do."

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