23 February 2013

Tanzania: Yanga, Azam in Cut Throat Battle

TITLE rivals Young Africans and Azam face off this afternoon in a mouthwatering Vodacom Premier League top of the table clash at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, in what could provide a clear picture on the destination of this year's top flight title.

To most pundits, today's encounter between table toppers Yanga, who are vying to reclaim the trophy they relinquished last season to archrivals Simba, and second-placed Azam, who are craving for their first ever top flight silverware, could turn out to be the title-decider.The two sides will go into the game tied on 36 points, with Yanga who have a game in hand, occupying the driver's seat on goal difference.

A win for Yanga and the title would be theirs to lose, while an Azam win will throw the title race wide open.Thousands of football aficionados from around the city and neighbouring regions are expected to flock at the 60,000-seater state-of-the-art-stadium for this much-awaited fixture--one of the most intriguing matches of the season.

For the past few days Yanga have arduously been gunning up for this crunch clash on the shores of Bagamoyo in Coast region, knowing that a win will pave their way to league glory this season.With a game in hand, Ernie Brandts team should be viewed as favourites in this title race. The yellow-green sporting side, have experience and importantly, they know how to finish the race.

Both teams are riding high at the moment and it will largely depend on who shows up and most of the battles particularly the one at the middle of the pack. Will it be Yanga's Haruna Niyonzima, Athumani Idd and Frank Domayo or Azam's Salum Abubakari, Humphrey Mieno and Kipre Bolou?

Offensively, Yanga's hopes rest on born-again goal poacher Jerryson Tegete, Hamis Kiiza, Didier Kavumbagu, and Said Bahanunzi.

They have the most potent striking force in the league and certainly, present an utmost challenge to Azam.It would be interesting how things unfold at the other end of the pitch as Azam are equally deadly going forward, with Kipre Tchetche, John Bocco, Hamis Mcha, Brian Umony, Seif Abdallah and Gaudence Mwaikimba in their ranks.

Yanga will have to keep a close eye on Kipre Tchetche, who has scored nine league goals this season and he is at the top of the scoring chart ahead of Kavumbagu, with eight.The Mbagala-based outfit boasts the most formidable squad in the elite league at the moment and no wonder they have won four games on the trot. A massive 4-0 win over JKT Ruvu on Wednesday once again proved their credentials as strong title contenders.

Hall hit the jackpot by adding few top players to his squad during the mini-transfer window. Newcomers Brian Umony, Humphrey Mieno, and Joackins Atudo have proved valuable additions in the Azam squad.First round's fixture was a thrilling encounter with Yanga prevailing following a 2-0 win and if they manage to defeat the ice-cream makers, it would be a 'statement of purpose' of monumental proportions.

With ten and nine games remaining for Yanga and Azam respectively, it is obvious that both sides would approach today's match like a final, knowing this is the biggest of them all in the run to the league glory. On the whole, this match, to be officiated by Hashim Abdallah, is a mouthwatering affair with the two genuine contenders going head-to-head for the title. Simba, still with a chance - face Mtibwa Sugar tomorrow.

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