Dar es Salaam. Young Africans assistant coach, Noel Mwandila harbours hopes of winning the 2018 Mapinduzi Cup as the tournament rolls into the semi-finals today.
His charges will be subjected to yet another test this afternoon when the Mainland giants go head-to-head with on-song Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in the first semi-final match at the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar.
The match billed to be a nail-biting affair starts at 4.30pm, according to Zanzibar Football Association (ZFA).
It will be followed by another mouth-watering encounter between defending champions Azam FC and high-flying Singida United, which kicks off at 8.30pm.
Yanga were yesterday busy, perfecting their tactics with Mwandila looking in high spirits after guiding the Jangwani Street team to the knock-out stage.
In an interview with The Citizen yesterday, Mwandila predicted a tough match, but assured Yanga fans that he has a good team that should deliver a win in today’s showdown.
“Facing URA is always difficult. They are a strong team as those who have seen them in action can attest,” he said.
“But we are ready for the challenge. We will strive to fashion a way to the final and possibly clinch the Mapinduzi Cup title,” he added.
His optimism stems from the fact that Yanga have been in a brilliant form both in the Mainland Premier League and Mapinduzi Cup.
In their final Group B match, they battled to a one-all draw with Singida United on Monday night.
URA, on the other hand, finished top of Group A after squeezing a 1-0 win over Simba in their final group stage match on Monday.
A win for Yanga would be a sweet revenge against the Ugandan giants, who beat them 4-3 on penalties in the 2016 Mapinduzi Cup semi-final at the Amaan Stadium.
The showdown was decided on penalty shootouts after the two teams settled for a one-all draw in normal time.
And Yanga will miss the services of defender Nadir Haroub and striker Amissi Tambwe, who are sick.
URA coach Nkata Paul has expressed optimism that today’s clash will produce positive results for his team.
Nkata said yesterday that their target is to leave Zanzibar as the Mapinduzi Cup champions.
“We are in the competition to win, but we are taking one match at time,” Nkata said.
“We believe that now is our time. We sent Simba packing on Monday and that gave us a massive psychological boost,” he said.
URA, the only foreign team in the tournament, sounded a warning note to their next opponents in the semifinals (Yanga) by squeezing a slim but vital 1-0 win against the Msimbazi Reds in their final Group A clash.
The Singida United versus Azam FC game also promises to be an intriguing encounter.
Singida United head coach, Hans van Pluijm said they will be all out for a win.