12 January 2018

Tanzania: Yanga Bench Under Line of Fire

YOUNG Africans technical bench has been blamed for the team's elimination from Mapinduzi Cup after losing 5-4 on penalties to Uganda's URA on Wednesday.

Embattled Zambian striker, Aubrey Chirwa missed the last penalty for Yanga, during a tense post-match penalty shoot-out after normal time had ended goal-less at Amani Stadium in Unguja. Congolese midfielder, Papy Kabamba Tshishimbi, Hassan Kessy, Raphael Daud, Gadiel Michael netted their spot kicks.

URA penalties were scored by Patrick Mbowa, Enock Kibumba, Shafiq Kagimu, Jimmy Kulaba and Brian Majwega. Chirwa carelessly missed the decisive penalty with goalkeeper Alionzi Nafian the hero with an easy stop. The penalty miss added up to a woeful display after second half cameo, replacing industrious midfielder, Pius Buswita.

And after the Wednesday's defeat, some football experts and the club supporters are pointing an accusing finger at the team's technical bench, which was under the Assistant Coach, Shadrack Nsajigwa, for the decision to field Chirwa, who they said lacked match fitness.

Chirwa, who was reported to have refused to join the rest in the squad until the club leadership pays his dues, returned from his native country Zambia a day before the match and went to Zanzibar early on Wednesday.

Prominent football analyst, Ally Mayay said that the introduction of Chirwa in the 53rd minute replacing Buswita was unnecessary as it killed off the team's attacking rhythm. "It was a wrong move to field him (Chirwa) because he clearly lacked match fitness ... and again, it was absurd to pull off Buswita (Pius), who had a good rhythm and drove the team really well from the midfield," lamented Mayay.

The former Yanga and national team, Taifa Stars' midfielder, has also called for massive improvements for both Yanga and Simba ahead of their CAF club championship campaigns this year. He said Mapinduzi Cup and especially, URA have exposed the weaknesses that must well be addressed.

A fan (Juma Abdallah) said Chirwa had abandoned the team's training for weeks and his inclusion in the squad was only painting a bad picture and demotivate other players who had trained hard for weeks ahead and during the tournament.

On his side, Nsajigwa said his charges played well but luck was not on their side. The former Yanga and Taifa Stars right wing back and skipper refused to blame his players. "It is not right to point an accusing finger on players ... football is a team game and in my opinion, the team played well throughout the game, we were only not lucky in penalty shootouts," he said.

Yanga's Head Coach, George Lwandamina also returned after almost a month absence. He was also in his native country Zambia, attending the loss of his son. However, Lwandamina sat on the stands as Nsajigwa continued to be in charge.

URA will face the tournament defending champions, Azam FC who defeated Singida United 1-0 in the second semi-final, with the lone goal scored by Shaban Iddi in the 78th minute.

Iddi raced onto a hurriedly attacking throw in ball before booting the it past goalkeeper, Manyika Peter Jr, with 12 minutes left on the clock as Aristica Cioaba's charges celebrated wildly.

Azam's Aggrey Morris and Stephen Kingue were cautioned early in the first half. The final will witness two group A sides face off for the second time in the tournament. During the first time of meeting, URA won 1-0 courtesy of Nicholas Kagaba's strike in the 32nd minute.

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