Dar es Salaam. The baptism of fire awaits Mlandege, Mwenge and Zimamoto when they take on Mainland Tanzania’s top-placed Young Africans, Simba and Singida United in the 2018 Mapinduzi Cup clashes at the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar today.
Mlandege face mainland champions Yanga from 8.15 pm at the Amaan Stadium, after Simba and Mwenge battle it out at the same venue at 4.30pm, and Singida United tackle Zimamoto at 2.30pm.
The matches featuring the top-flight sides are set to light up the annual tournament, which kicked off on December 29 last year.
Simba SC is currently placed at the top of the Mainland league with 26 points while Singida United is third with 23 points and Yanga at fourth with 21 points.
Second placed Azam kicked off its campaign on December 31, with a 2-0 victory against Mwenge of Pemba.
Zanzibar teams face the Herculean task of frustrating and subduing their Mainland rivals to get back their Mapinduzi Cup campaign on track and give their disgruntled fans something to smile about.
Mlandege, who went down 1-0 to Taifa Jang’ombe on Saturday, will have to turn into goals every chance that comes their way.
But then again, creating chances has not been the Zanzibar team’s staple diet in this tournament. It wasn’t during their 1-0 defeat to the Jang’ombe outfit.
Against Yanga, the temptation to be cautious will be there, but sometimes you can be too cautious and play straight into the hands of the opposition – especially if that outfit is Jangwani Street boys, whose style of play is attack and attack.
But Young Africans themselves know all too well that one can be complacent at their own peril in football.
“It’s a tough match, but we are just going to take it like any other game. ” Yanga assistant coach, Noel Mwandila said yesterday.
“It’s an important game for both teams, and as you all know, there is no easy game in Mapinduzi Cup.”
“We are playing one game at a time and there is no room to underrate our opponents. We have put our strong feet forward as we plan to field the best squad available against Mlandege, we want to go all the way and claim the trophy,” he said.
Coach Masoud Djuma’s charges will be subjected to yet another test today when Mainland giants Simba face Pemba’s Mwenge.
Djuma told The Citizen by phone from Zanzibar yesterday that his players were in high spirits, raring to shine in their first Mapinduzi Cup match.
The Msimbazi Reds, who finished second last edition of the tournament, have vowed to make a mark in the encounter.
“I know we will be playing against a good team. We are preparing for a good, but tough match, we will not take them lightly because they play their hearts out whenever they are up against big teams,” Djuma said.