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Capital FM edged out by Azania in Road to Anfield regionals

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Capital FM receive their runner up trophy at the Jakaya Kikwete park in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Mar 4 – Reigning World Champions Capital FM will not return to Anfield, the home of English Premier League side Liverpool to defend their title after being edged out by hosts Azania Group of Companies in the regional final played on Saturday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Both Capital and Azania finished with six points, but the hosts took victory having scored just one more goal that the defending world champions. Both teams had a goal difference of +1 but while Capital had scored two, Azania had put in three goals.

“It was a very tough tournament. We did our best but unfortunately in this occasion our best was not good enough. We congratulate Azania for winning and we hope they represent the region well at Anfield. I want to give my team mates a pat on the back for a job well done. We will go back regroup and bounce back,” team captain Lassie Atrash commented after the final match.

Initially, the tournament was to be in a round robin format each team playing two games but after the first round, all teams, Azania, Capital and Ugandan representatives Coca Cola were tied on three points and a goal difference of zero.

It forced the game into round two for the deciders where Capital won once and drew with the Tanzanians.

Capital FM coach Ahmedin Gulu gives instructions to Kristian Malumbe, skipper Lassie Atrash and Solomon Okeyo during the Road to Anfield Regional finals at the Jakaya Kikwete park in Dar es Salaam on March 4, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The boys from Kenya who won the national championship started the day well with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Uganda’s Coca Cola, the hard fighting Jeff Ooko scoring the important goal.

It was a tough encounter played under the sweltering heat in Dar, temperatures raising to a high of 35 degrees and the simmering artificial turf never made things easier.

Heading into the second match, Capital only needed a draw to confirm victory for the tournament after Uganda had beaten Azania, but the hosts bounced back to beat Kenya 1-0 and put the tournament all square again.

Abdallah Ali scored the all important goal from a swiftly executed counter attack after the Capital side lost the ball in a dangerous area.

With all teams square, a second round of matches was called to decide the winner. In the first match, Capital persevered through the harsh condition and the 2pm sun to win 1-0 again over Coca Cola, with a goal scored by skipper Atrash.

The Ugandans lost their second match 2-1 against Azania with Ali scoring both for the hosts including a late winner in the final minute of the match.

Capital FM’s Kristian Malumbe beats an Azania opponent during the Road to Anfield Regional finals at the Jakaya Kikwete park in Dar es Salaam on March 4, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The game against Capital now turned out to be the decider with the winner heading to take it all, but Azania only needed a draw to win. They piled bodies in the back and had only one dangerous effort at goal through their captain Abdallah Hamisi whose shot came off the upright.

The young boys from Tanzania controlled the pressure from Capital well and their goalkeeper made several crucial saves to see his side progress. He dived well to his right to save an shot from Atrash before blocking Ooko in a one on one situation.

Kristian Malumbe who was playing with an injured wrist, the true mark and spirit of a champion also saw his shot saved by the keeper while another effort from a freekick was blocked by the wall.

The team returns to Nairobi on Sunday.

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