DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 22 – Tanzanian Premier League leaders Dar Young Africans (Yanga) have vowed to ensure the SportPesa Super Cup remains in the capital, especially coming into this year’s showpiece with wounds from their embarrassing exit in Nakuru last season fresh on their minds.
Yanga suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Kenyan Premier League mid-table side Kakamega Homeboyz to exit the tournament in shame, but the Jangwani giants have vowed to atone for the hurt they put their fans through by winning the trophy on home soil.
“Last year we had so many problems because most of the players did not travel to Nakuru including the coach. This time round, we are better prepared and as players we will do our best and work hard and I believe we will achieve the objective of going into the final,” skipper Ibrahim Ajib who was part of the squad in Nakuru said.
Yanga begin their campaign Tuesday evening against Kenyan side Kariobangi Sharks at their fortress in the national stadium and coming up against a Kenyan side that has been scaling the improvement ladder, they know they will be in for a tough test.
Head coach Mwinyi Zahera has insisted that his target for this tournament is to play three games; the first round, semi-final and the final.
You might mistake the Congolese tactician’s confidence for arrogance, but the tactician bears a lit of respect for Sharks who he terms as a tough team.
“This is one of the tournaments we had planned for as a team and our objective is to play three games. We know it will not be easy. But we will put in our strongest 11 because if our objective is to win, then we don’t have a choice but to put in a strong team,” Zahera noted.
He added; “Kariobangi Sharks is a big team; I have watched two of their videos and they have very good players and it is a team we should be prepared for. Everyone who comes up to play against Yanga brings in their A game and we don’t expect it different with Sharks.”
Yanga come into the evening tie with some good form under their belts.
They sit top of the Tanzanian premier League with 53 points after 19 matches, a cool 12 points ahead of second placed Azam who have played a match less. Arch rivals Simba SC are fourth with 33 points, 20 behind the leaders, though they have played five matches less.
The Dar-based side is on a crazy run of unbeaten matches. Since their last loss against Rayon Sport in the CAF Confederations Cup in Kigali last year August, Yanga have dropped points in only two of their last 18 matches.
At the national stadium in Dar, their last defeat came off a Kenyan opponent, when SportPesa Super Cup defending champions Gor Mahia beat them 3-2 in a CAF Confederations Cup fixture.
Skipper Ajib is livid that with their run of form, tumbling them over at Taifa is out of the question.
“We are well prepared for this game. We are on a good run of form and the coach has given us the tournament objective. As players, we will work hard to achieve what he has set out for us,” the midfield maestro pointed out.
Yanga are looking to get into the final for the first time ever, having exited in the semi-final of the maiden edition in 2017 losing 4-2 on penalties to AFC Leopards. They had earlier on won with similar fashion against Tusker FC in the first round.