Hans Van De Pluijm
Runaway leaders Yanga will bid to open a five-point gap at the summit of league table when they face a litmus test against Mbeya City in a mouthwatering clash at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya this evening.
Yanga Head Coach, Hans Van De Pluijm will certainly demand an improved performance from his charges after expressing his disapproval of his team?s show, despite earning a massive 3-0 win against their host Prisons FC at the same venue on Thursday.
The Dutchman expressed his dissatisfaction of his squad?s display in the match, but said he was happy with the results which saw his team leapfrogging defending champions Azam FC to the top of VPL standing on 29 points from 14 matches.
Certainly, it is not going to be easy for Yanga as Mbeya City have slightly regained their form, which however, is still far from what they produced last season.
Last season, Mbeya City head coach Juma Mwambusi defied the odds after gate-crashing the top-three party with his formidable side in their debut season, but the team has struggled to replicate the same performance this season.
Mbeya City are sitting in a tenth position on 17 points, 12 points adrift Yanga and Mwambusi is determined to close the gap with the rest of the pack. Mbeya City matches have always proved to be attractive, pulling attention of many soccer fans in the country.
The team has a huge following and fan base in Mbeya, which has always supported them even outside the hilly southern city. This is why record revenue and maximum crowd is expected to characterise the eagerly awaited encounter at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium, if records of the past matches are anything to go by.
Available records shows that the match between the two teams last season held at the same venue, fetched 100m/-. Only Simba versus Mbeya City match, which fetched 105m/- at the venue last season has beaten that record. Pluijm is determined to take all the six points in the Southern Highland city to consolidate his team?s position at the top of the table and hope that their closest challengers Azam slip up against Tanzania Prisons at their Chamazi Complex on Sunday.
Holders Azam are two points behind Yanga and the ?ice cream makers? will certainly go for maximum points against the bottom placed Mbeya lads and keep their fingers crossed that Yanga to slip up against Mbeya City for them to reclaim the top spot.
While Yanga and Azam are battling for the top seat, Simba who are eight points off the leaders Yanga, will be facing Stand United at Kambarage Stadium in Shinyanga.
Simba who won 2-0 against Polisi Morogoro in the previous league match seems to have good record in away games compared to their home venue. They have won against Ndanda FC, Polisi and managed a draw against Coastal Union and Mtibwa Sugar.
Simba, who have so far not lost an away match are aiming at maintaining their winning streak so as to close the gap with league leaders and also keep their title campaigns alive.
On the other hand, Stand United currently in the relegation zone will be keen crawl away from the danger to serve their skin. This means that they will be targeting maximum points to stun the visitors. In the first leg match played in October, last year, the two sides fought to a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Meanwhile, Kagera Sugar beat Polisi Morogoro 1-0 at the Kambarage Stadium in Shinyanga yesterday to cement their third place in the top flight league. The Bukoba lads are now on 24 points four above Simba.
In another development, Kagera Sugar Assistant Coach Mrage Kabange applauded Shinyanga region fans for the support that they are showing towards his team.
He is happy with the turn out at the Kambarage Stadium compared to what they experienced during their short spell at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza. ?It is pleasing to see that we attract many fans here even more than the home team ?Stand United,? he said.
By BETRAM LENGAMA, Tanzania Daily News