TABLE toppers Young Africans will bid to open a three-point lead at the summit of the Mainland Premier League when they entertain African Lyon at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday afternoon.
Title challengers Azam thrashed Mtibwa Sugar 4-1 on Sunday to move level with Yanga on 33 points, albeit after playing a game more. Therefore Wednesday's encounter will provide Ernest Brandts side with a chance to regain a three-point advantage. Young Africans' charge towards the title was checked by Mtibwa Sugar after the Morogoro-based outfit eked out a 1-1 draw earlier this month.
Ugandan striker Hamis Kiiza stepped off the bench to rescue Yanga from the jaws of defeat with a late equalizer against Mecky Maxime's Mtibwa Sugar in a thrilling game at the National Stadium. Brandts will demand improved performance from his team against a struggling Lyon side as he is eager to lift the top flight title in his first season at the Jangwani Street-based club.
The Dutch tactician is expected to go for an offensive game and has a wealth of striking option to choose from, with Didier Kavumbagu, Jerryson Tegete, Hamis Kiiza and Said Bahanuzi all available for selection. Yanga, however, should expect nothing less than a strong resistance from the Mbagala-based outfit, who are desperately fighting for their lives.
With ten rounds to play, Lyon find themselves bottom of the 14-team standings having managed only nine points from 15 outings, in which they have suffered 11 defeats, drawing three and winning only two. First round's encounter played on November 30, last year, saw Yanga pull off a massive 3-1 win, thanks to goals from Nadir Haroub and Nizar Khalfan, who notched a brace.
Elsewhere, Coastal Union will be looking to leapfrog defending champions Simba to third place when they travel to face Kagera Sugar at the Kaitaba Stadium in Bukoba. Coastal Union are currently occupying fourth place having accumulated 27 points, one point shy of Simba, with both teams having played 16 games. But a trip to sixth-placed Kagera Sugar is going to be tricky one for Coastal Union.
A win for Kagera Sugar and the hosts will go level on points with their visitors. Mtibwa Sugar, smarting from weekend's humiliating home defeat at the hands of Azam, will be attempting to bounce back as they welcome Ruvu Shooting at their Manungu backyard.
The two-time league champions are placed seventh in the standings following their 23 points haul from 16 games and should brace for another daunting task against in-form Ruvu Shooting, currently in fifth place on 24 points, collected from 15 matches.
League debutants Mgambo Shooting host their brothers from Arusha, JKT Oljoro, at the Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga, with each gunning for maximum points that would ensure they stay miles away from the drop zone. Today's fixtures will be spiced with a thrilling battle involving teams positioned at the other end of the table when hosts Toto African, on 13 points, and Polisi Morogoro, with 10 points, face off at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza.