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Yanga out to clear ‘Popa’ hurdle

YOUNG Africans battle Botswana’s Township Rollers in Gaborone in their CAF Champions League preliminary round second leg today, with high hopes of surprising their hosts for a place at the next round. The match that will decide which side progresses to the next round, will kickoff at the National Stadium in Gaborone at 16:30 (EAT).

Tied at 1-1 from the first leg two weeks ago at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Yanga need a win on the day to progress by a clear aggregate margin or a draw of more than two goals to progress on the away goal rule.

A defeat or goalless draw will see the Jangwani Street lads dumped out of the continental top tier club championship. Yanga Head Coach Mwinyi Zahera believes his charges are capable of beating Township Rollers alias ‘Popa’ in Gaborone and go through the next round, and has urged his players to stay focused on the last days of training. “We had chances to win the first leg but we were not lucky enough to do it. We played two friendlies that didn’t help us much but I believe we still have time to prepare our team for the game,” said Zahera.

“It is a tough game but it is up to us to perform. They didn’t beat us at home but we can get good results away. Our target is to perform well,” he added. Yanga’s Ugandan-import, Juma Balinya added to his trainer’s view calling for a united front in their quest for a convincing result that will ensure their continued stay in the premier continental club championship. “Township Rollers is a good team.

They press high and their movements are very good,” said Balinya who joined Yanga this season from Police FC of Uganda. “However, we shall not worry much about that. We need to stay focused and train for the game. I am confident that if we play well as a team we can beat them and move away with victory,” he added. However, Yanga need to be cautious as their hosts will be looking to repeat what they did when they knocked out the Jangwani Street giants from the same tournament in 2018, after posting a 2-1 victory in Dar es Salaam, before registering a barren draw in Gaborone. Township Rollers Head Coach, Tomas Trucha told Rollers media in Gaborone yesterday that his intention is to get a win today.

“We managed the result which we achieved away, and we must respect the quality of the opponent. Now we are going to play football which is entertaining, and at the same time football which is effective. My opinion is that if we play thinking that a 0-0 result will be enough, then we will not succeed; we must play to win this game, we are respecting our opponent but at the same time we must be active and play for a win,” Trucha said.

While Rollers conceded late against Yanga in Dar es Salaam, Trucha will not single out the defence for a late lapse in concentration and will rather work on ensuing every aspect of the Rollers game is focused today. “We have to look at things situation by situation; we conceded late but it was from a penalty, we did not give Yanga clear chances, they had half chances yes, but not clear ones. We will work on our attack, on our defence, on transition and on set pieces, on different aspects of our game,” Trucha said.

The Czech gaffer added that he would love to see Rollers supporters give their side full backing in order to assist Popa triumph today. “I wish people could see how hostile the atmosphere was at the stadium in Dar es Salaam, and we ask our supporters to please come and give the team the friendly atmosphere that could help us,” Trucha said.

The winner between Rollers and Yanga will proceed to the first round proper against the aggregate winner between Zesco of Zambia and Green Mamba of eSwatini, with the Zambians having won away and taking a 2-0 lead into their home leg. The winner of that next qualifying tie would then progress to the prestigious group stage of the tournament.

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Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter

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