AFTER one week of international break, the Mainland Premier League resumes this weekend with excitement and pressure gripping fans, as they wait to see which clubs will return to business in a seamless fashion.
The international break could prove to be the worst time for top flight league bosses and plenty of rotation is expected to take place. Several players, whose playing and travelling schedule during the international break, make them a selection risk for the following game of the week.
Going into the weekend’s matches, supporters of the country’s two soccer giants and rivals - Simba and Young Africans - have been busy outlining the prospects of their teams.
Simba will arguably face the steaner test against Azam FC at the Chamazi Complex on Saturday, while their rivals Yanga have realatively tricky test away to the newly promoted Njombe Mji at Sabasaba grounds in Makambako on Sunday.
Simba kicked off the new league season with a bang after thrashing Ruvu Shooting 7-0 at the Uhuru Stadium on August 26th, this year and their fans are eager to see their team maintain that feat. Joseph Omog charges will be out to prove that the victory against the military side they posted in the opening game was no fluke.
Omog said his charges are ready to play any time anywhere. The Cameroon tactician expressed confidence that Simba will start from where they left off against Ruvu Shooting. Simba versus Azam match has become the talk of the city and fans wetting their appetite for a thrilling and mouthwatering tough duel.
Simba received a major boost with return of their striker and former Azam skipper John Bocco and midfielder maestro Haruna Niyonzima, who are back in training after being sidelined due to injuries.
However, the Msimbazi Reds should keep their fingers crossed that their potent weapon, Ugandan striker Emmanuel Okwi and key defender, Juuko Murshid return to team injury free and beat the jetlag.
The duo travelled to Alexandria, Egypt, with Uganda national team, The Cranes, to face Pharaohs in a return fixture of the Group E World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday, in which Uganda lost 1-0.
Okwi, specifically is on fire, scoring four times againt Ruvu Shooting and went ahead to score a winning goal for Uganda Cranes in their first leg World Cup qualifiers clash against Egypt in Kampala, Uganda, last week.
The Ugandan said he will continue to hit the back of the net, but certainly it will not be an easy task for Simba against the ice-cream makers club, who has always been a difficult opposition to face. Azam are not only a tough opponent but they are also genuine title contenders.
For some reasons, analysts say, it will be an advantage to Azam because they will welcome Simba for the first time at their Azam Chamazi Complex on the outskirt of Dar es Salaam and the visitors could somewhat feel disoriented.
Last Sunday, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) approved Azam to host Simba and Yanga at their 7,000 seater capacity Cahamazi Stadium. This move pleased Azam management, with Spokesman, Jaffar Idd saying playing at home will give their team an advantage.
“We’ve always been playing away and now the changes have come where we will host Simba and Yanga at our own turf ... they should brace for nothing but defeat,” said Idd.
In their opening match, Azam beat Ndanda FC 0-1 at the Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium in Mtwara and they too, will be out to maintain their perfect start to the season.
Defending champions, Yanga who kicked off the new season in a wrong foot after being held to a 1-1 draw against newly promoted side Lipuli FC in the league opening match, will certainly come out gun blazing to appease their supporters.
Yanga’s Zambian tactician George Lwandamina need to restore faith by posting nothing but a win against Njombe Mji away.