Dar es Salaam. Defending champions Young Africans have overcome one of their trickiest hurdles as they march to their third straight Vodacom Premier League title.
Yanga, who have seldom stayed atop the 16-team table this season, needed five minutes of the second half to register a 2-0 victory over Tanzania Prisons at the National Stadium yesterday.
Goals from Burundian Amissi Tambwe (70th minute) and Zambian Obrey Chirwa (75) ensured that Yanga leapfrogged their arch-rivals Simba, albeit on goal difference.
While the Jangwani Street heavyweights were celebrating a return to the summit, JKT Ruvu became the first team to suffer relation to the First Division League.
The army outfit slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Toto African at the Kirumba Stadium.
Toto Africans are not yet safe either. They have to win all their remaining matches to be 100 per cent certain of surviving the drop.
Yanga and Simba now tie on 59 points after playing 26 and 27 matches respectively.
Simba will be left with two matches after clashing with unpredictable African Lyon at the National Stadium today.
On paper, Simba are clear favourites to bag the three points today, but the memories of a 1-0 defeat in the first round may see them approach the must-win match cautiously.
Yanga can afford to lose one game and win three of their remaining four, and still win the league on goal difference.
They will tie with Simba on 68 points with the winner being decided by goal difference.
Nothing is won yet
Yanga assistant head coach Juma Mwambusi lauded players’ resilience for the hard-fought win, but reminded them that nothing has been won yet.
“It was a difficult match, but we are happy that we got the points at stake. We haven’t won anything yet, so we have to keep on fighting,” said Mwambusi.
Prisons assistant coach Shaaban Kazumba blamed the defeat on loss of concentration, but promised a quick recovery.
“We lost concentration in the second half and they punished us. However, we will bounce back and win the remaining matches,” he said.
In Songea, Majimaji revived their hopes of surviving relegation after thumping Mwadui 3-0 at the Majimaji Stadium while Kagera Sugar and Ruvu Shooting played out a one-all draw at Mabatini ground.
Yanga: Benno Kakolanya, Hassan Kessy, Mwinyi Mngwali, Kevin Yondani, Vincent Bossou, Said Juma, Simon Msuva, Thabani Kamusoko, Amissi Tambwe, Obrey Chirwa, Geoffrey Mwashiuya.
Prisons: Aaron Kalambo, Benjamin Asukile, Michael Ismail, James Mwasote, Nurdin Chona, Jumanne Elfadhil, Salum Kimenya, Mohammed Samatta, Victor Hangaya, Lambert Sibiyanka, Meshack Suleiman.