Azam FC wins Tanzania League title
AZAM football club won their maiden Tanzania Premier League title on Sunday after registering a 2-1 win over Mbeya City at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya.
Going into this match, Azam wanted three points in two of their remaining fixtures to be crowned champions and they made not mistake as John Bocco’s strike eight minutes from time settled a pulsating encounter, and the victory ensured that the ‘ice cream makers’ clinch the title for the first time since they were promoted to the top division in 2007.
Azam also broke Mbeya City’s unbeaten home record. Gaudence Mwaikimba netted the opener for Azam in the 45th minute but Mwagane Yeya pulled level in the 70th minute.
It was a see-saw encounter as the ball swung from side to side. As predicted, things were not easier for the Dar tycoons.
Mbeya City looked determined to hold onto their unbeaten home record and they fought hard, keeping Azam guessing throughout the game.
Azam are also keen of making history by clinching the league title with a clean sheet, replicating what Simba achieved in the 2009/2010 season.
Azam missed the title by whisker twice, finishing second behind Simba in the 2011/2012 season, and they settled in the same position behind Yanga last season.
Azam’s closest challengers, Young Africans, also won 2-1 against relegated Oljoro JKT at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha, but on 55 points, with a game to go, there is no way the last season’s winners could reach Azam’s 59 points mark.
Azam will represent the Mainland in the CAF Champions League for the first time next season, while Yanga, who have settled second, won a ticket to represent the country in the CAF Confederation Cup.
On the other hand, the defeat did not alter Mbeya City’s third place on the league table and on 46 points from 25 outings, Juma Mwambusi’s side will sit down to analyze what is largely regarded to be a successful campaign in their debut season in the top flight league and become the strongest next season.
Elsewhere, at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Kaluta Stadium in Arusha, Yanga came from behind to confirm Oljoro JKT’s journey to the First Division League next season.
Oljoro snatched a lead in the 67th minute through Jacob Masawe, who beat defenders Ibrahim Job and Kelvin Yondan before scoring past goalie Deogratius Munisi.
After conceding, Yanga upped the tempo and equalized through Rajab Zahir in the 72nd minute and winger Simon Msuva sealed the win two minutes later.
Yanga’s last match will be against arch rivals Simba at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, while Azam will play a mere formality match against JKT Ruvu and the army team will have to give Azam a guard of honour.
At the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, giants Simba suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of relegation battling Ashanti United.
It was Simba’s record sixth defeat in 25 matches, in their worst season in almost two and half decades. Mohamed Nampaka’s 17th minute strike was enough for Ashanti United to reach 25 points from 25 matches as they continue to push for survival.
The Abadllah ‘King’ Kibaden side faces a must win or burst encounter against another relegation struggling Tanzania Prisons on Saturday.
Whoever loses this match, will join Oljoro JKT and Rhino Rangers of Tabora in the First Division.
Simba, who are under the tutelage of Serbian coach Zravko Logarusic, remain fourth on 37 points. Kagera Sugar, who battled to a barren draw with Mgambo JKT of Tanga are fifth on 35 points.