Hamisi Kiiza

Defending Champions Yanga came from a goal down to emphatically beat resolute JKT Ruvu 3-1 in an entertaining Vodacom Premier League match that was played under floodlights at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.

JKT Ruvu were the first to draw blood on Yanga in the 36th minute, when Amos Mgisa blasted home. But emphatic performance after a slow start saw Ugandan striker Hamis Kiiza levelling the score from the spot kick shortly after an hour mark.

Kiiza notched the second 12 minute before the final whistle, before left fullback Stephano Mwasika planted the third in the dying minutes of the game. Yanga had two close chances midway through the first half but both went begging. In the first, Ghanaian striker Kenneth Asamoah was released outside JKT Ruvu penalty area but he blasted wide.

Asamoah then collected the ball from almost 35 metres out, dribbled past two JKT defenders and set up Zambian striker Davies Mwape, whose left footed strike went inches wide off the left post.  The defending champions continued to dominate the game but failed to carve out meaningful chances and were punished for the failure to take their chances as JKT Ruvu notched the opener in the 36th minute through Amos Mgisa.

The scorer was released down the left flank and got the better of two Yanga defenders a few metres outside the penalty area prior to unleashing a powerful strike that sailed into the net, leaving keeper Shaaban Kado sprawling on the turf.      Yanga had another good chance shortly before the interval, when Asamoah made a solo run on the left and made his way into the penalty area but disappointingly failed to finish the move to leave the army men leading 1-0 at the breather.

Kostadin Papic men had a good chance on resumption when Kiiza evaded his marker down the right and floated in a pinpoint cross but Asamoah and Mwape failed to finish off despite arriving on time in the box.  The Dar es Salaam giants were awarded a penalty on 60th minute, after Kiiza was fouled in the box. The Uganda best player of the year stepped up, kept his nerve to send keeper Shaaban Dihile the wrong way.  A defensive blunder by Ruvu  thereafter, could have cost the team dearly as Mwape snatched the ball  from almost 40 metres out, raced  to the edge of the box but his lob kissed the crossbar.

Kiiza then banged in the second deep into the half when he pounced on a well measured cross whipped in by substitute Shamte Ally from the right flank. Mwasika who is making a comeback from a long spell out of injuries added the third in the dying minutes of the game as he lobbed the ball over Dihile after he was released by Mwape. The win saw Yanga level on 31 point with their rivals Simba. Yanga was in need of three points yesterday so that they could boost their chances of toppling league leaders, Simba, who have enjoyed the drivers’ seat since the league kick off in August 20 last year.

Yanga had, until yesterday, collected 28 points from 14 matches, and could have stayed on the top position in the standing had they not managed a 2-2 draw with Moro United in their opening game of the second round at the same venue last weekend. A win of over four goals over JKT Ruvu could have seen the Jangwani Street side occupy the top spot, albeit temporarily, apart from continuing to bolster competitiveness in the title chase. Yanga have always been finding the going tough whenever they meet JKT Ruvu in recent premier league assignments and the Saturday’s game was, for that matter, expected to be no exception.

With Azam FC, currently in the third position, strongly pursuing the top two sides, nothing but a win could have ensured Yanga maintain pressure on their rivals. Yanga are increasingly coming under pressure for their less impressive displays and the team’s Serbian coach, Kostadin Papic definitely faces a daunting task of strengthening the team’s performance so that it could harbour hopes of successfully defending the trophy.

By JAPHET KAZENGA, Tanzania Daily News



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