- Published on Thursday, 26 July 2012 20:02
- Written by DAILY NEWS Reporter
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DEFENDING Champions Young Africans and debutant Azam FC will clash in an all-Tanzanian CECAFA Kagame Cup final after winning their semi-final matches against APR and AS Vita respectively.
Yanga edged out APR 1-0 in second semi-final played for 120 minutes at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam to set up the mouth-watering final clash with Azam, who had dispatched favourites AS Vita with a 2-1 win in the other semi-final at the same venue.
Yanga notched their solitary goal through Ugandan striker Hamis Kiiza, who intelligently chested home from Haruna Niyonzima's whipped delivery from the right in the 99th minute. Yanga coach Tom Saintfiet made few changes from the squad that played against Mafunzo in the quarterfinal.
Goalkeeper Ali Mustafa started his first game for Yanga, replacing injured Ghanaian Yaw Berko, while David Lehende and Godfrey Taita were preferred ahead of Stephano Mwasika and Rashid Gumbo.
APR had the better of the early going and created the game's first real opening as Leonel St Preus smashed the crossbar with a ferocious strike after 11 minutes. Yanga responded after the quarter an hour mark with Kiiza forcing a smart save from APR custodian Ndoli Jean Claude from almost 40 metres.
APR increasingly grew into the contest and came close to taking the lead three minutes later but Mustafa denied Dan Wagaluka with a point black save following a perfectly weighed up cross from Selemani Ndikumana on the right.
Saintfiet was forced into making an early change after Juma Abdul sustained a knock. He was replaced by Shamte Ally. Ndikumana then attempted a shot from outside the area, which narrowly missed the target and despite creating a few more chances neither of the teams managed to open the deadlock and settled for a goalless draw at the breather.
The game was played at a surprisingly low tempo in the second half, with players from both sides looking exhausted, but still chances were sporadically created at both ends. The deadlock was nearly broken in the 66th minute when Ndoli produced a heroic save to deny Said Bahanuz from a close range.
It was Yanga’s best chance in the half. Yanga looked most likely to score as the game wore out but APR held on gallantly for remainder of the second half and the game went into extra time. It took nine minutes of the extra minute before Yanga finally hit the back of the net through Kiiza.
APR defenders were caught napping when David Luhende’s throw-in spotted Niyonzima’s run on the right. The Rwandan midfielder stormed into the box and set-up the scorer with a timely delivery. Yanga were reduced to ten men four minutes later, but held on brilliantly to keep their dream for a second successive regional glory alive.
Azam FC, meanwhile, reached the CECAFA Kagame Cup final in their maiden year when they came from behind to beat 10-man AS Vita of DR Congo 2-1 in an entertaining semifinal match that kicked off at 2:00pm at the same venue.
John Bocco scored his fourth goal of the tournament in 67th minute to cancel out Alfred M'Fongang 34th minute strike, but there was still time for substitute Mrisho Ngassa to score the winner a minute before the final whistle.
Both sides attempted to keep the ball as much as they could and fashion out some openings early on, however, there were few and far clear goal-scoring opportunities created during the first half. Vita threatened on the fifth minute forcing two corner kicks but Azam defence, marshaled by Said Mourad stood firm and cleared out the danger.
Azam had a great opportunity to open the scoring moments later when Issama Mpeko fouled John Bocco on the edge of the box but Aggrey Morris’ shot from the resultant free-kick went agonizingly wide. Bocco headed Ibrahim Shikanda’s cross wide of the target as Azam made another attempt on the eight minute and he had a goal disallowed after 14 minutes for offside.
Azam made two more attempts in the 28th and 33rd minutes. First Kipre Tchetche unleashed a powerful drive from just inside the edge of the box that sailed inches away from the far post and sent his header wide from point blank range off an Erasto Nyoni cross.
Azam were punished for their miss when striker Alfred M'Fongang broke the deadlock after in the 34th minute with a cracking shot from almost 25 yards out giving the Black Dolphins a first half lead.
Kipre Tchetche forced a fine save from Vita goalie Nelson Lukong with a power-packed long range effort resulting to a scramble inside Vita’s box and the Ivorian was presented with another opportunity but shot awkwardly off target.
AS Vita suffered a blow after Mpeko was sent off with a second bookable offence few minutes before the breather. Stewart Hall introduced Mrisho Ngassa at the restart, with Jabir Aziz taken off and his team controlled much of the match in this half but was guilty of missing a string of chances to level the score.
Bocco pulled Azam level with a thumping header in the 67th minute after a beautiful cross by Nyoni who set him up. With a minute of regular time remaining, Ngasa notched the winner for Azam when he clinically finished off a wonderful assist from midfielder Salum Abubakar.