YOUNG Africans laboured to beat JKT Tanzania 1-0 and claim vital three points yesterday at Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga, restoring title hopes after dropping seven points in their past three games.
The victory saw Yanga reach 58 points and continue to lead Mainland Premier League table after their 23-match outings as they eye to face their traditional rivals Simba SC on February 16th at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Feisal Salum scored the winning goal in the 26th minute of the first half, utilising well the short-pass from defender Gadiel Michael.
It was a good bounce-back for the Jangwani Street-based giants who desperately had to win to end series of two draws they suffered against Ruvu Shooting (1-1) and Singida United (0-0).
Following series of goal scoring attempts from the both sides, it was Yanga who made the breakthrough in the 26th minute after Salum received a sweet pass from Micheal whose solo effort paid off in the end.
The goal helped to ease pressure from the visitors while the hosts continued to push more men upfront in attempts to level the score before the end of the first half, but, Yanga’s defence marshalled by Andrew Vincent managed to thwart all dangerous moves. Coach Mwinyi Zahera opted for Vincent as the central defender and the usual position bearer, Kelvin Yondani was on the bench. Yondani was introduced in the closing stages of the tie.
JKT Tanzania goalkeeper Patrick Muntary was firstly tested by skipper Ibrahim Ajib in the 20th minute when his long-range strike forced him to stretch himself and punch the ball for the fruitless corner.
The opening ten minutes of the match were nervous as each side played cautious game to avoid conceding an early goal, thus making most actions seen at the centre of the pitch. JKT Tanzania captain Mwinyi Kazimoto led his team in ball distribution.
He was repeatedly exchanging tackles with Yanga’s Papy Tshishimbi who started the game in place of the injured Thabani Kamusoko.
The second half started on a high foot mainly for the hosts, who looked transformed and ready to stab in the equaliser any moment. In the 53rd minute, Ally Shiboli was on the verge to put level for his team, but his bullet narrowly missed the target to the relief of Yanga.
Shiboli was a thorn to Zahera’s backline throughout the match. Yanga were the first to make substitution in the 58th minute when Mrisho Ngassa was called off for Mohammed Issa ‘Banka’ who has completed his 14-month ban for doping charges.
It was his first time serving the Jangwani Street club after joining from Mtibwa Sugar last season. Again, in the 67th minute, Ajib was rested for Deus Kaseke, a move seemingly made for Zahera to enable his side reclaim midfield dominance which at this moment was running out of gas.
Yanga’s shot stopper Ramadhani Kabwili had to jump high to deny Shiboli’s header in the last stages of the game of which if it was not his alertness, then his side could have recorded the third consecutive away draw.
Meanwhile, KMC were held to a 1-1 draw with Alliance FC from Mwanza at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam.