YOUNG Africans coach, Ernie Brandts, has blamed the 0-1 defeat to Kenyan's Tusker FC in a friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday to lack of depth in his squad.
Ismail Dunga scored the only goal of the match from the spot kick in the stroke of half time to give the Kenyan Premier League side a deserved win. Brandts told journalists after the match that most of the key players were missing with others yet to join the camp, while others are nursing various degrees of injuries which negatively affected their game plan.
The Dutch tactician mentioned some of the key players missing as Rwanda playmaker Haruna Niyonzima, current league top scorer Burundian Didier Kavumbagu, Taifa Stars youthful midfielder Frank Domayo and defender Kelvin Yondani.
"We're without several key faces in the team that played today (Wednesday), Haruna (Niyonzima), Frank (Domayo), Didier (Kavumbagu) Kelvin (Yondani) and Mbuyu Twite were all not available for the match, it was definitely going to be difficult for us," he said.
The coach also wanted to gauge the ability of newly recruited players in this mini-transfer window as well as give chance to players who had limited chance with first team appearance in the first round of the top flight league. Yanga used the Boxing Day fixture to parade their newly signed players, notably Congolese- born Rwandan midfielder Kabange Twite, who joined the club during the minitransfer window from APR of Rwanda.
Kabange, who is Mbuyu's twin brother, was joined in the starting line-up by two youngsters George Banda and Lehani Kibingwa, who have been promoted from the junior squad. Kabange was later deployed to the central defence role to partner Nadir Haroub 'Cannavaro.'
He admitted that his team did not play well in the first half but improved dramatically in the last 45 minutes but were unable to break resolute Tusker defence. "We expected a tough match from Tusker and that made us prepare for this match. But unfortunately did not have our best start to the match, a fact which gave our opponents determination to win the game."
Yanga are fine-tuning for the second round of the Mainland 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 was a good litmus test for Ernest Brandts side ahead of the Isles event.
Tusker arrived in Dar es Salaam earlier this week from Nairobi and they have been scheduled to play a couple of friendly matches on their way to Zanzibar for the annual one week Zanzibar Mapinduzi soccer tournament. They will also encounter Premier League champions, Simba at the same venue on Saturday.
Tusker are using the friendly matches and the forthcoming Mapinduzi Cup 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.