Azam FC players

Azam FC bolstered excitement in the Mainland Premier Soccer League’s title chase after edging Moro United 1-0 at the former’s Chamazi Stadium, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam on Monday.

Towering striker, John Bocco, scored the lone goal in the first half to eventually see Azam collect 29 points, two points adrift of big guns, Simba and Yanga, who occupy the first and second positions respectively in the standing despite being level on 31 points.

The match was previously scheduled to take place at the same venue a day before but the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) decided to push it back so as to avoid a low turnout that could have happened in the game considering that majority of domestic soccer fans in the city were expected to attend the return leg of the African Women Championship (AWC) Qualifiers pitting the senior national women soccer team, Twiga Stars, against Namibia at the National Stadium the same Sunday.

Azam dominated the Monday game in the first half, in which the side put scintillating displays and went close on several occasions only to see its strikers, Bocco and Mrisho Ngasa, miss the chances. Moro United were a rejuvenated side in the second half, pinned their opponents down for a while but their efforts to cancel out Azam’s lead hit snag.

Azam FC had, until the Monday game, been occupying the third position with 26 points from 14 matches, five points adrift of rivals, Simba and Yanga. The ice-cream makers opened their second round campaign with a hard fought 2-1 over African Lyon in the match played at the former’s venue at Chamazi, with an own goal by one of African Lyon players and a second half strike by centre forward, John Bocco, earning big spending Azam crucial three points.

The victory over African Lyon boosted Azam’s chances of continuing to stay in the title contention and a win in the yesterday match was definitely crucial to their pursuit of the maiden triumph. Azam had grabbed a slim 1-0 win over Moro United when the two sides met in the league’s first round match and expectedly, this second round encounter  game had equally all the qualities of a tightly contested duel.

Azam, coached by English tactician, Stewart Hall, bolstered its squad by roping in Ivorian midfielder, Kipre Balou, and towering striker, Gaudence Mwaikimba, during the mini-transfer window in December, last year in a bid to strengthen its chances to emerge champions for the first time ever. Mwaikimba, coincidentally, was recruited from Moro United and the striker could have faced his former side for the first time in the season had coach Hall decided to play him.

Moro United forced a 2-2 draw with defending champions, Yanga, in their first game of the second round at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam a fortnight ago to stay at the ninth position with 15 points from 14 matches. Moro United head coach, Hassan Banyai, admitted the draw had frustrated his side’s attempt to climb up the league standing and promised to work on the team’s weaknesses with a view to winning forthcoming games.

League giants, Simba, are expected to return to action on Wednesday, in which they will face Oljoro JKT of Arusha at the National Stadium.  Victory over the fourth-placed Oljoro would see Simba again open a three-point gap with their closest challengers and rivals, Yanga.

Source Tanzania Daily News

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