YOUNG Africans have gone one step closer to sealing the Mainland Premier League title for the 2016/2017 season, after securing a 2-1 victory over Mbeya City at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Simon Msuva first half strike put Yanga ahead but defender Haruna Shamte pulled level after the restart. However, Zambian striker Aubrey Chirwa grabbed the winner midway in the second half.
The victory saw Yanga regaining the league top spot by overtaking their rivals and title close competitor Simba.
The giants are tied on 65 points but Yanga are ahead on goal difference. Having played a game less, Yanga will be champions if they win their next two matches against Toto African and Mbao FC.
It means, the Jangwani Street lads do not just have one hand on the trophy but those green and yellow ribbons are being tied and the engraver has sharpened his tool ready for the calligraphy.
Four more points from the two final league games is all it will (mathematically) take and they will hope and expect to collect them at the same venue on Tuesday against Toto African of Mwanza and another three or at least a draw away to Mbao FC at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on Saturday.
And it will be a richly deserved title, a third straight, fifth in six years and 26th in the club’s 82-year history.
In the game yesterday, Mbeya City showed resistance but there was never any doubt that Yanga would win this. It was a question of how many goals they would score and this was another performance with a title-winning swagger.
Mbeya City went behind through Msuva drop header after receiving a long high ball from Hassan Kessy just after seven minutes. Mbeya City defenders were unable to clear their lines only to allow Msuva under pressure from a thick of defenders to head home a floating cross into the penalty area.
Kessy was set through by midfielder Haruna Niyonzima, who displayed excellent footwork in the middle of the field and the scorer nodded the ball into the net to earn his side vital opening goal.
However, Msuva was stretched out of the pitch after being injured while in effort to score and replaced by wing back Juma Abdul. The changes slightly disrupted the team’s striking partnership of Amissi Tambwe, Aubrey Chirwa and Msuva.
Msuva’s goal assured of his top position in the golden boot race after collecting 14 goals and he is followed by Ruvu Shooting’s Abdulrahman Mussa and Chirwa tied on 12 goals. The third place is shared by Shiza Kichuya and Mbaraka Yusuf also tied on 11 goals.
Yanga who kicked off the match on a high tempo made several attacks and got three consecutive corners, but Chirwa and Tambwe squandered the chances created and failed to double their side lead. Mbeya City also managed to contain their hosts’ pressure and slightly gained confidence.
They stepped up the tempo and Rajab Isihaka and skipper Kenny Ally were dominant at the pack of the midfield. In the 20th minute Raphael Daudi had a nice chance to level the matter after being set clear by Ditram Nchimbi, with only goalkeeper Beno Kakolanya to beat, but the custodian superbly saved the day. Then in the 30th minute Mbeya City forced two consecutive corners but Kakolanya stood firm to protect Yanga’s lead. In the 34th minute, Tumba Lui made a timely intervention to stop Amissi Tambwe.
Four minutes before the break, skipper Kenny Ally failed to beat the keeper, after being allowed time and space to shot but failed to hit the target. After the break, Mbeya City who are currently fighting for survival in the topflight league, introduced in Bryson Raphael for Zahoro Pazi and Yanga Coach, George Lwandamina sensed the lack of tactical discipline from Kessy, who was pushed further forwards and addressed it by calling in Emmanuel Martin.
The changes benefitted Mbeya City, who netted an equaliser in the 57th minute through Shamte after Ditram Nchimbi outmuscled Vincent Bossou and Nadir Haroub to set up the scorer, whose power packed shot beat keeper Kakolanya.
Mbeya lads introduced former Yanga winger Mrisho Ngasa but eight minutes after his introduction, Yanga regained the lead through Chirwa with a flick header, finishing well Juma Abdul’s ball from a set piece.
Yanga skipper Nadir Haroub was replaced by Kelvin Yondani and in the 79th minute, Ally was denied an equaliser on one situation against goalkeeper Kakolanya, who made a save to deny the Mbeya lads.
The day also witnessed a battle to avoid relegation and struggling Mbao FC continue to slip into the relegation zone after losing 2-1 over Kagera Sugar at the Kaitaba Stadium in Bukoba, Kagera.
Majimaji of Songea managed to slightly crawl away from relegation zone after recording 1-0 win over relegated JKT Ruvu at the Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga, while Ndanda FC of Mtwara lost 2-1 to Tanzania Prisons at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya, to continue peeing at the grave.
Mtibwa Sugar beat another relegation haunted Mwadui FC from Shinyanga 4-2 at the Manungu grounds in Turiani Morogoro.