- Published on Monday, 23 July 2012 01:00
- Written by DAILY NEWS Reporter
- Hits: 917
CECAFA Kagame Cup defending Champions Young Africans will be vying to go a step further towards retaining the regional crown when they take on familiar foes, Mafunzo of Zanzibar in one of two quarterfinal matches scheduled for Monday.
Yanga, who clinched the coveted regional silverware with a 1-0 win over archrivals Simba 1-0 in last year's final match, will go into their quarter-final clash with Mafunzo at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam boasting the ability and experience to reach the semifinal of Kagame Cup.
Yanga finished second in group C with six points while Mafunzo nudged through into the quarters as group B leaders.
Though Tom Saintfiet's side had a false start at this year's tournament when they lost 2-0 to Atletico of Burundi, they demonstrated great character when they bounced back in style with two back to back wins to seal their quarter-final spot.
The holders will also enter the match full of confidence as they also boast of an incredible record against Mafunzo who haven't beaten Yanga in a major tournament in several previous attempts.Saintfiet will bank on his strikers Said Bahanuz and Hamis Kiiza.
In Bahanuz, Yanga have one of the best strikers in this year's tournament pulling the strings, scoring four goals from three appearances.And alongside Bahanuz is Ugandan Kiiza who has done his reputation no harm over the past few weeks with a series of impressive displays for his team, same as Rwandan midfielder Haruna Niyonzima, who is an integral member of the team.
Mafunzo, however, have plenty of strengths of their own and defensively, they have proved they are a tough nut to crack.
Mafunzo haven't scored many goals, but with experienced coach Ahmed Moroko in charge, anything is possible and if the Islanders are on their day, they could cause Yanga plenty of problems.
Should Mafunzo players maintain the fighting spirit and discipline they showed in their group matches, Yanga should brace themselves for a tough battle.
The Yanga versus Mafunzo game will be preceded by another quarterfinal match pitting Rwandan side APR, against URA of Uganda in what is expected to be an exciting duel based on the form both sides have shown so far.
After taking all the maximum points at the group stages URA are now the team to beat as the regional meet enters the knock-out stage.URA Coach Alex Isabirye revealed that he is a bit relieved when he avoided another home side at the quarterfinals.
"I am not saying APR is a weak team but it is tricky to play a home side in such tournaments because they will always throw everything at you with the help of the fan. But I have respect for them and I expect a tough game," said Isabirye.
URA opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over record CECAFA champions Simba FC, followed that with a 3-1 demolition of Vita Club from DRC and wrapped things up with another 3-1 win over Ports from Djibouti.Meanwhile, APR manager Ernest Brandy said he will rely on the three Ugandan stars in his team to tame the high flying tax collectors come Monday.
"It is true URA are a very strong team but I have three Ugandans who know them very well and we shall seek their advice on how we can tame them," said Brandy.The three are Johnson Bagoole, Dan Wagaluka and Habib Kavuma, who is yet to play in the tournament.
But Bagoole, who recently earned a call back to the Uganda Cranes, made a terrible mistake in his penalty area that led to Yanga's second goal and the coach is likely to leave him on the bench against his former club URA FC.