TITLE hopefuls Azam moved level on points with leaders Young Africans at the top of the English Premier League table by beating hosts Mtibwa Sugar 4-1 at the Manungu ground in Morogoro on Sunday.
Yanga were not in action over the weekend and second placed Azam took full advantage to breathe fresh impetus into their title push with a thumping win that would certainly put more pressure on the leaders. Yanga could, however, restore their three point lead when they take on African Lyon at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.
A Kipre Tchetche brace and a goal apiece by Joackins Atudo and Brian Umony took Azam to 33 points, same as Yanga who still occupy the driver's seat based on goal difference. Kenyan defender Atudo opened the scoring for the icecream makers on 14 minutes following a goal-mouth cramble but Mtibwa Sugar pulled level after 21 minutes, capitalizing on Atudo's blunder.
The two teams headed for the breather tied 1-1. Ugandan striker Umony put Azam back in front a minute into the restart after being teed up by Kenyan midfielder Humphrey Mieno. Ivorian Tchetche scored two quick goals in the closing stages to seal a vital win for Stewart Hall's side, while condemning Mtibwa Sugar to their fifth defeat of the season, which leaves them seventh in the standing with 23 points.
Meanwhile, Premier League defending Simba vented their frustration at referee Athumani Lazi after they dropped two more points in Saturday's 1-1 draw with JKT Oljoro, reports Yasinta Amos from Arusha. Simba have won only one game since the start of the second phase of the top flight league, a 3-1 triumph over African Lyon, while conceding two back to back draws from a winning position.
Mwinyi Kazimoto had given Simba a first-half lead with a rasping shot barely seven minutes into the game but any hopes of walking away with maximum points were dented by Paul Nonga's leveler after the break. They previously squandered an opportunity to close the gap on top two teams, Yanga and Azam FC when they could only battle to a 1-1 draw with JKT Ruvu at the National Stadium.
Speaking, Simba assistant coach Jamhuri Kihwelo launched a scathing attack on Lazi as deemed that the official favoured the home team and was the reason his team failed to win the game. JKT Oljoro coach, Alex Mwamgaya dismissed Kihwelo's claims saying that usually the so called big teams would never admit that new clubs can not only square them out in any match but also defeat them whenever the situation presents itself.
The latest setback means Simba remain in third place on 28 points from 16 games and trail leaders Yanga and secondplaced Azam by five points, with the former having played a game more. In another development, Simba have been dealt with a massive blow ahead of their CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg tie against Recreativo de Libolo with news that left full-back Paul Ngalema has sustained knee injury.
The muscular defender was forced off half way through the first during his side's 1-1 draw at JKT Oljoro on Saturday and Simba physician Cosmas Kapinga has reportedly confirmed that he will sit out of next weekend's clash with Recreativo de Libolo. Kapinga said Ngalema has been flown back to Dar es Salaam where he will undergo a scan to reveal the extent of the injury and determined how long he is going to be out.