AMISSI Tambwe’s goal helped Young Africans to close within touching distance of a third successive Mainland Premier League crown as they downed Toto African 1- 0 at the National Stadium.
Jangwani Street based club opened a three-point gap at the league’s summit, sitting top on 68 points ahead of their close competitor and rivals Simba SC, who need miracles to win this season’s title.
It means, the Jangwani Street lads do not just have one hand on the trophy but those green and yellow ribbons are being tied and the engraver has sharpened his tool ready for the calligraphy.
Yanga can win a third consecutive title by earning just a point in their last league match against relegation threatened Mbao FC at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on Saturday.
If it happens that Yanga lose to Mbao, it will require their closest challengers Simba SC to beat Mwadui FC 13 clear goals on the same day, to be crowned champions.
This means, mathematically, Simba are still slightly on the title race picture but on papers, definitely Yanga have already sealed their record 26th league title, a feat no other team has achieved before. And, it will be a richly deserved title, a third straight, fifth in six years and 26th in the club’s 82-year history. In the game yesterday, Toto Africans showed resistance but there was never any doubt that Yanga would win the game.
Toto African looked to delay the Yanga title party with a determined display that shocked many fans. The visitors defended stoutly as they sought to keep their scant hopes of avoiding relegation alive.
As it stands, Toto African will need to win their last match against Mtibwa Sugar at the Manungu grounds in Turiani, Morogoro on Saturday, and keep their fingers crossed that Mbao and Ndanda FC fail to collect maximum points in their respective last matches.
Toto African remained second bottom on 29 points while Ndanda and Mbao are tied on 30 points but Mbao is ahead of Ndanda due to goal difference advantage.
The match started strongly and Yanga came knocking as early as in the fifth minute, when Zambian striker Aubrey Chirwa failed to make contact with Haruna Niyonzima’s ball.
Yanga were attacking thick and fast and Niyonzima was linking well with box to box Zimbabwean midfielder, Thabani Kamusoko in the middle of the pack but the front liners Tambwe, Chirwa and Geoffrey Mwashuiya struggled to penetrate resolute Toto African defenders.
Toto African made a rare foray upfront in the 25th minute but skipper Laurent Lusajo fumbled with a chance. Three minutes later, Toto threatened again, this time, Waziri Junior missed from a close range with keeper Beno Kakolanya slightly out of position.
Kamusoko forced keeper David Kisu into a full stretch in the 38th minute, to push away a 30 metres low drive to a fruitless corner kick.
Then Chirwa forced himself into the box two minutes later, but defenders stood firm to stop him. Yanga were still on ascendancy and in the 42nd minute Kamusoko skipped past few defenders but his shot could not hit the target.
With the visitors happy to get numbers behind the ball and sit deep, Yanga struggled to find a way through during an eventful first half.
Coach George Lwandamina made changes in the second half, bringing in Deus Kaseke and Emmanuel Martin for Juma Mahadhi and Godfrey Mwaishuya as Yanga continued to look the team more likely to score. They put keeper Kisu and his defenders under siege.
On his side, Toto African coach, Fulgence Novatus introduced Waziri Ramadhani for Natoka Mohamed Soud. Toto Africans nearly caught Yanga napping, when Waziri Junior shot narrowly but missed the target in the 53rd.
Two minutes later, Niyonzima fired a powerful shot that narrowly missed the top corner as the visitors started to fade off giving the champions- elect more room to push further into their box.
In the 74th minute, Haji Mwinyi’s fierce shot sailed wide and a minute later, Chirwa missed a chance to score with a miscued header. But Toto Africans were undone on 80 minutes when Tambwe rifled home his 11th league goal of the season from close range.
He connected home with a blistering header a dazzling cross from Juma Abdul. With four minutes remaining, Kaseke almost extended the lead, pouncing on a loose ball but the keeper stood firm to stop his close shot.