DONALD Ngoma spared Young Africans blushes after netting an equaliser in the 79th minute, as defending champions battled to a 1-1 draw with determined host Majimaji FC yesterday.
At the fully packed Majimaji Stadium in Songea, the host took the lead in the second half through impressive Peter Mapunda. But Ngoma’s equaliser slightly eased some pressure which started to build on Zambian Coach George Lwandamina.
Winger Geoffrey Mwashiuya was introduced in the starting line-up for the first time this season after recovering from injury, as Coach Lwandamina sought to inject some pace upfront. And Yanga started the match strongly looking for an early opener.
Mwashiuya forced himself into the Majimaji’s box just two minutes into the game but defender Tumba Sued stood firm to clear the danger.
Four minutes into the game Majimaji threatened, when Hussein Juma’s header nearly hit the back of the net after he rose above defenders to connect a perfect cross inside the area from Selemani Selembe. Mwashiuya was at it again in the 10th minute but failed to make the most from a chance he created.
Then in the 12th minute, Majimaji skipper Danny Mrwanda, chested down with the slightest of touches and danced past Juma Abdul.
However, Papy Kabamba Tshishimbi reacted quickly to intercept before the former Simba and Yanga striker pulled the trigger. Majimaji upped their tail and in the 24th minute goalkeeper Youthe Rostand outstandingly denied Majimaji an opener, when he stretched to the limit to parry off Mapunda’s goal bound shot to a fruitless corner kick.
After half an hour mark, free kick master, Ibrahim Ajib belated strike in the box was blocked by Hassan Juma, as goalkeeper Andrew Ntala looked to be beaten by Majimaji’s sticks.
A minute later Aubrey Chirwa managed to beat defender Tumba Sued, but Ngoma couldn’t apply power in his shot, before custodian Ntala showed fantastic reflexes to push a deflected shot wide.
Selembe then skipped past Kelvin Yondani and checked back on his right foot, but his strike in the box was blocked by Tshishimbi to a corner kick in the 39th minute.
Both openings gave the minnows confidence to tackle Yanga after the restart, in which experienced midfielder, Abdulhalim Humud was introduced to add depth in the midfield.
In the 50th minute, defender, Andrew Vincent misguided a long ball, which fell onto Mapunda’s path, but the striker’s one-on-one shot with Rostand was batted away by the goalkeeper.
After several near misses, Majimaji took the lead in the 54th minute, when Mapunda outpaced Juma Abdul and Yondani and drilled a low shot that beat the keeper at the far post. Five minutes later, Tshishimbi raced to a long ball and hit a half-volley wide.
Pressure was mounting on Yanga’s bench and they had to introduce Hassan Kessy for injured Abdul in the 66th minute. Four minutes later, Yanga, who committed bodies forward, launched a fierce strike and Zambian striker Aubrey Chirwa’s cross in the area was cleared by Majimaji defenders.
After pushing hard for an equaliser, Yanga managed to pull level, when Zimbabwen striker Ngoma reached to a pin pointed Chirwa’s cross and headed home in-front of Tumba Sued. With time running out, Yanga looked a side more likely to score the second. However, they suffered a big blow after Emmanuel Martin, who came in as a second half substitute picked a serious knock and was stretched off.
He was replaced by Said Makapu. It was a second draw for the reigning champions who in the previous game had a slim 1-0 victory over Njombe Mji. In the opening match of the season, Yanga were held to a 1-1 draw by a newly promoted side Lipuli FC.
The draw was also the second for Majimaji, after the dramatic 2-2 draw against Tanzania Prison in the previous game. They lost the opening match 1-0 to Mbeya City.
Other matches held yesterday - Mtibwa Sugar returned at the top of the league standing after recording their third consecutive win following their 2-1 victory over Mbao FC at Manungu grounds in Morogoro, which saw them bagging nine points from three games.
Mtibwa overtake Azam FC, who on Friday night beat Kagera Sugar 1-0 at Azam Complex. Elsewhere, Singida United beat Stand United 1-0 at the Kambarage Stadium in Shinyanga to record their second win of the league, while in Mbeya, Tanzania Prisons were held to a barren draw by Ndanda FC. Lipuli FC were also held to a goalless draw by Ruvu Shooting at the Samora Machel Stadium in Iringa.
The league continues today with Simba hosting Mwadui FC at the Uhuru Stadium, whereas Mbeya City will welcome Njombe Mji at the Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya.