TITLE favourites Young Africans opened a six-point lead over second-placed Azam at the top of the Vodacom Premier League table with a 1-0 win over visiting Kagera Sugar at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Once again the league leaders had to rely on Rwandan midfielder Haruna Niyonzima, who scored a spectacular second half goal to seal a crucial win that increased Yanga's points tally to 42 points after 18 games.
The talented playmaker scored in similar fashion when Yanga overcame Azam 1-0 to go three points clear last Saturday.
The result also means that Yanga established an 11-point gap with defending champions and archrivals Simba. With the defeat, Kagera Sugar remains fifth on 28 points. Both teams played hard and had numerous chances over the opening 45 minutes, but neither side was able to find a goal.
Yanga squandered a glorious opportunity to take the lead on the stroke of half time when Didier Kavumbagu missed a penalty, awarded to them after the Burundian strike had been fouled inside the box by Kagera Sugar goalkeeper Hannington Kalyesubula.
Ernest Brandts demoted Jerryson Tegete and Hamis Kiiza to the bench with Said Bahanuzi handed a rare start as he slotted in alongside Didier Kavumbagu in a two-pronged attack. Athumani Idd, Frank Domayo and Haruna Niyonzima as expected formed the midfield trio.
At the back, Kelvin Yondani and Nadir Haroub continued in central defence while Mbuyu Twite and Oscar Joshua occupied the flanks. Abdallah Kibadeni put an extremely attacking line-up, comprising of Darlington Enyinna and Shija Mkina upfront while Julius Mrope and Daudi Jumanne hugged the right and left touchline respectively.
George Kavila and Juma Nade were the midfield pair ahead of back four comprising of Benjamin Asukile, Muganyizi Martin, Malegesi Mwangwa and Amandus Nesta while Hannington Kalyesubula started in goal. Yanga saw the lions share of possession in the early stages and went close barely after two minutes when Kavumbagu headed against a post.
Yanga had an opportunity to find the net on the second minute when Msuva raced down the right wing to the end line and whipped a cross into the box, but Kavumbagu's header was off target. Msuva then drew a fine save from Kalyesubula on 13 minutes.
Kagera Sugar gradually grew into the game and attacked at every opportunity but Yanga defence and their custodian Ali Mustafa succeeded to put the Sugar strikers at bay. Nade attempted another distant shot after a fine team move, but couldn't find the target before Kavila hit a spectacular long range wide to the left.
Yanga responded with Oscar Joshua smashing a stunning long range drive narrowly wide and seconds before the breather Yanga won a penalty after a nice exchange of passes between Bahanuzi and Kavumbagu sent the latter clear into the box only to be bundled down by onrushing Kalyesubula.
The Burundian hitman opted to take the shot but put it wide. The game was somewhat a balanced affair on resumption, but Yanga slightly created edged in terms of chances created, one of note coming from Domayo, who smashed the woodwork with a blockbuster effort in opening minutes of the second half.
The winner arrived in the 70th minute. Niyonzima collected the ball on the edge of the box and unleashed strike which exploded from his right boot and swerved and wobbled its way into the top corner of the net.
Shija Mkina missed a sitter while one on one with Mustafa to the frustration of Kagera Sugar's technical bench in the closing minutes. Brandts sent on Tegete and Kiiza for Kavumbagu and Bahanuzi but the duo could not extend their side's 1-0 lead.