DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 22 – Duke Abuya scored a brace as Kariobangi Sharks survived a late scare to beat Tanzanian league leaders Yanga 3-2 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday evening and qualify for the semi-finals of the SportPesa Super Cup.
The game had to turn into an ugly end when Amisi Tambwe scored Yanga’s second goal from a header inside the box.
Keeper John Oyemba held onto the ball after it bounced into the net and as Tambwe tried to retrieve it for a quick re-start, a small royal rumble began inside the net.
The two sets of players turned the game into a kick-boxing contest from the little brawl which boiled over with tensions simmering, but luckily no one was given the marching orders despite a few blows and kicks having been exchanged.
After tensions calmed, Sharks just but managed to hold on to the lead for the final few seconds.
Sharks were comfortably leading the game 2-0 via goals from Abuya and George Abege, but a defensive blunder from Geoffrey Shiveka gifted Amisi Tambwe an easy goal with three minutes of regulation time to make for a nervous end to the tie.
Shiveka slipped as he tried to shield the ball from the Burundian attacker who came off the bench and allowed him win the ball and face keeper Oyemba one on one and score.
Abuya thought he had ensured Sharks were sailing to the semis with comfort when he scored in added time after wiping off the entire Yanga defense.
But, that little joy and relief was erased as Tambwe scored again with a headed goal just after Sharks scored their second to make for another nervous end to the evening tie.
Herritier Makambo’s second minute open chance miss must have surely spelled a curse on Yanga as from there, Sharks took crisp control of proceedings and from their chances, two of them landed in the back of the net within the opening 45 minutes.
Makambo went through on goal after Shiveka’s defensive header brushed back to his path as he was rushing to the ball and the striker took a first time volley which he failed to direct on goal with only Oyemba to beat.
With a sizeable crowd of fans behind their backs, Yanga who have been on a good run of form in the domestic league sought to make amends but Sharks who were patient all through were not in any mood to panic.
And they made it count 10 minutes in from Abuya’s well taken shot from outside the box after being teed up by Abege.
But it was Harrison Mwenda who had done all the dirty work, dribbling into the box from the left and picking out Abege.
With a one goal advantage, Sharks were calm, controlled the tempo of the game with Patillah Omotto dictating the pace from midfield.
Yanga had a chance to draw back level in the 19th minute but Mrisho Ngassa’s header off a well delivered Paulo Godfrey cross wasn’t on target with no pressure on his back.
But the visitors kept their tempo and continued creating chances.
Abuya tried his luck with an audacious volley from distance in the 26th minute which went over before Vincent ‘Crucial’ Wasambo saw his header come off the crossbar five minutes later when he twisted well to connect to a Michael Bodo cross from the right.
Abege was next in the line of chances two minutes later as his bouncing header off an Omotto corner was tipped over for a corner by Yanga shot stopper Klaus Kindoki.
But, the lanky Ugandan whose goal sent Sharks to continental football finally got a reward for all his hard work upfront when he took a brilliant low shot off his weaker left foot from an Omotto through ball after Sharks turned over possession eight minutes to the break.
In the second half, Yanga boss Mwinyi Zahera started off by making changes, Haruna Mosho and Abdallah Shaibu coming off for Amisi Tambwe and Thabani Kamusoko as he sought to spice up things in the final third.
Minutes later, he also hauled off Ngassa for Deus Kaseke.
Yanga pushed Sharks into their own half and forced them to defend deep, but the Kenyan side did not crumble but kept to their defensive shape.
They came close in the 56th minute when Andrew Vincent rose high to head in a cross from Ibrahim Ajibu after Sharks keeper John Oyemba had missed the ball, but he couldn’t direct it on target.
Oyemba looked a bit shaky on dealing with crossballs and four minutes later he missed his attempt at collecting another but defender Bodo came to his rescue plucking the ball off Makambo’s head just a few yards off goal.
Makambo was proving wasteful for the home side and once again in the 72nd minute he had a chance to halve the deficit for his side after winning back possession, but he took too much time twisting and turning away from his markers allowing Nixon Omondi time to race back and tackle as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Sharks made changes, skipper Eric Juma coming on for Harrison Mwenda, a clear tact that Sharks wanted to guard the result while Shaphan Oyugi also came on for Wasambo.
Despite the two late goals, nothing could stop Sharks from attaining a place in the semis where either holders Gor Mahia or Tanzania’s Mbao awaits them.