NAIROBI, July 29 – Azam FC eliminated five-time champions and favourites Young Africans 5-3 on post match penalties in a keenly contested Tanzania derby to complete the semi final line-up of the Cecafa Kagame Cup semis in Dar-es-Salaam on Wednesday.
Both sides played to a barren draw in regulation time to force the shootout where Azam custodian, Manula Salum, stole the limelight when he stopped Mwinyi Haji’s effort to book a date with Uganda’s Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in Friday’s last four.
KCCA thrashed Al-Ahly Shedi of Sudan 3-0 in the early kick-off with Tom Masiko, Joseph Ochaya and Mazamiru Mutyaba on target for the Kampala based side that is looking for its second regional title and a first in 37 years.
Azam, the new home for Harambee Stars striker, Allan Wanga are in the running for their regional title with ecstatic head coach, Stuart Hall, saying clipping the enemy and Tanzanian league champions had given them reason to believe.
“I feel the game should have been a final. It was a fantastic game, high tempo, high energy and very competitive but I’m very disappointed with some of the referee’s decisions but we expected it,” Hall added.
His opposite number, Hans Van De Pluijm, was disappointed for crashing out of the completion in such fashion having prepared for eventual spot-kicks on the eve of the match as they missed the chance to match bitter rivals, Simba SC in history books by winning a sixth-crown.
“We were not in the game in the first-half but we did well in the second- half. If we could have utilized the last moment to make right choices in passing, we could have scored but to lose this way it’s very hard especially after training for penalties.”
The eagerly awaited Tanzanian derby failed to ignite the tournament with wasted chances and strong rear guard action the tale of both halves.
Azam started the brighter, with skipper, John Bocco, threatening just after kick-off but his right foot shot from close range was wayward setting the tone of the match.
Yanga defender, Kevin Yondani was forced to clear off the line two minutes later after his keeper, Ally Mustafa was beaten before Shomari Kapombe missed a tap in that could have given them the early lead.
The favourites cooled the pressure after quarter of an hour mark but still could not trouble a charged Azam side that nearly broke the deadlock in the 35th only for Ivorian import, Kipre Tche Tche to fluff his the chance when he blazed over on the rebound after Mustafa parried his initial ferocious strike.
There was nothing of note to write home about until the last seven minutes of regular time when the slow burner came to life.
Azam broke through Yanga’s defence but Faridi Mussa wasted the opportunity when his feeble pass failed to pick out the unmarked Bocco who was ready to pounce before they wasted another guilt edged chance against visibly tired opponents’ moments later.
Into penalties the tie went with Yanga winning the toss and their captain elected to ask their opponents to go first.
Tche Tche, Bocco, Mkami Mao, Pascal Wawa and Aggrey Morris duly converted from the spot for the Chamazi based side with Salum Telela, skipper Nadir Haroub and Godfrey Mwashuiya scored for Yanga.
The turning point came when Yanga’s number three, Haji stepped-up and after a short run-up, sent his left foot effort to the right of Maluma who guessed right and easily snuffed the kick that was sent without pace, power or precision.
The tournament, takes a break on Thursday to resume the day after where Azam will square it out with KCCA in the early kick-off before Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia face Al-Khartoum of Sudan.