ALL is not lost for Young Africans as they prepare to turn the tables in the decisive return match of the CAF Champions League against Rivers United in Nigeria this Sunday.
The country’s envoys have not yet lost hope of qualifying into the next stage of the contest despite stumbling to a 1-0 defeat in their first leg match at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam last Sunday.
On paper, it may seem to be an impossible mission as their opponents have something in their bag to protect them in the next match, but in football, the qualifying chances still remain 50-50, meaning that either side can progress further.
However, the 1-0 slump was a surprise not only to the 11 men in Yanga colours on the pitch, but to many football fans in the country who never anticipated that the visitors would come out that strong and cause problems to the Jangwani based outfits.
This was the case because not much was known about Rivers United other than their country of origin, as such, it was a bit hard for Yanga to source amicable solutions to stop them, hence lacked the common football tactic of knowing the danger men in the opposite side.
As they normally say, when you know your enemies, you move well prepared, but if you don’t know them, you just get back to your nerves after being attacked, and this is exactly what happened to Yanga on that day.
A lot has been said by pundits and sport followers on what they think was the reason which rendered the country’s envoys to begin the campaign on a snail pace, with many believing that inadequate preparations was the major contributing factor to the downfall.
They said the level of preseason drills Yanga had prior to the commencement of the champions league was below par as they hardly have strong friendly matches to give them the real test of the biggest club football showdown on the continent.
Even the Head Coach, Nasreddine Nabi at a postmatch briefing after the loss, insisted that he would have loved to have at least seven weeks of good preps prior to facing the Nigerians, but time was very limited for them.
Their international camp which was conducted in Morocco was simply too brief, and they hardly played a single testing game to weigh out their team, which could have helped the technical area to identify weak areas of their squad.
Others had the views that the team’s technical bench failed to do their homework properly, which ended with them piling up pressure on players and making improper substitutions during the tense encounter.
But, all these were just suggestions from people on what they thought could have been done better to enable Yanga produce the vital home win ahead of the returning battle which has already been predicted to be too hot.
The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Technical Director, Oscar Milambo had his inputs on what he thought dragged Yanga backwards, causing them to lose the home duel.
He pointed out that they were simply not ready for the big game as most players were heavy-legged, a situation which made them fail to properly execute football tasks required in competitive matches.
The second thing Milambo aired out was the role of the technical bench when the game unfolded, saying Rivers United players who were key in the opening stages of the encounter continued with the same performance until the game elapsed.
“This means Yanga failed to come up with the right medicine to cure the problem, hence it is down to the technical staff to see how they are going to approach the next game,” Milambo who once coached the country’s Under-17 side Serengeti Boys remarked.
He then seized the chance to encourage Yanga, telling them that in football, anything is possible, and with the other 90 minutes coming up, the level of their preparations will determine the results they will claim from the away territory.
Also, Yanga’s Competition Director, Thabit Kandoro cooled down the pressure from Yanga fans ahead of the return leg, saying the team has potential to make an impressive come-back to win the game.
“From the way they (Rivers United) played, I see that we have a big possibility of emerging victorious in Nigeria. We have quality players, and that gives me hope that we will do wonders in our next match,” Kandoro said.
Yanga will still miss the services of three foreign based players, who are Juma Shabani, Fiston Mayele and Khalid Aucho whose International Transfer Certificate (ITC) have not yet been released, as such, if they manage to step into the group stage, the trio will play.