Hans Van De Pluijm

Hans Van De Pluijm

The Mainland Premier League champions, were among pre-tournament favourites to win this year?s championship, but were defeated by Azam 5-3 in penalty shootout following a goalless draw in normal time.

Pluijm, speaking after the match, conceded that disappointment was enormous and apparently criticized his team?s performance in the first half.

?The first 45 minutes we were not there in the game, we improved in the second half but we still didn?t create as many chances as we would like,? commented Pluijm.

?To lose in this way it is very hard? we trained the day before penalties and everybody scored,? the Dutchman added, saying that his team was now going to prepare for the forthcoming domestic season. ?This is over, now we have to go and prepare for the upcoming league,? he said.

Azam FC players held their nerves during the penalty shootout and scored all five shots while their custodian Aishi Manula saved Yanga?s third penalty taken by Haji Mwinyi.

Defender Aggrey Morris scored the decisive fifth penalty after Kipre Tchetche, John Bocco, Himid Mao and Pascal Serge Wawa had all converted their spot kicks.

Salum Telela, Nadir Haroub and Geoffrey Mwashiuya were on target for Yanga. It was a fitting revenge for Azam, who lost 2-0 to Yanga in the 2012 final, but significantly, Stewart Hall?s men stay on track for the first ever CECAFA club championship glory.

Hall could not hide his joy after seeing off their rivals but criticized his team?s failure to translate chances into goals, while also hitting at the match officials.

?It was a really high tempo, really competitive and exciting game. I am very happy that we won. We were solid without being great but we missed several chances in regular time,? he said.

Hall was of the opinion that his side would have won the game in regulation time if Kenyan referee Davis Omweno was on top of his game. ?I am disappointed with the referee to be honest.

The refereeing was awful, these guys are pathetic. We had a blunt penalty in the first half and the referee didn?t give, so many decisions went against us.?

?The problem is CECAFA and the organizers badly wanted Yanga in the finals because they know they will make a few shillings when 15,000 or 20,000 Yanga fans come to the stadium, which is not right,? he said.

Azam plays KCC in the semifinals today as they try to qualify for their second final, the former won 1-0 the last time both sides met and that was in their Group A match.

Ahead of the semis, Azam will need to work on their finishing after failing to convert a couple of clear-cut chances that they created against Yanga.

?We had two or three great chances to win the game, we won because our defence was solid, but we cannot keep relying on defence, we need to start scoring goals,? Hall said.

Kenya?s Gor Mahia will meet Al Khartoum of Sudan in the other semifinal today at the same venue.

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