- Published on Monday, 17 September 2012 02:10
- Written by COSMAS MLEKANI in Mbeya
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YOUNG Africans head coach Tom Saintfiet was left confused after his side was held to a goalless draw by hosts Prisons on the first day of the new Premier League season.
Most had expected the 2012 Kagame Cup Champions Yanga to easily walk away with a win at the Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya as they visited Prisons, who are making a comeback in the top flight football.
The hosts defended brilliantly for 90 minutes as a star-studded Yanga slightly dominated possession in the opening half but failed to find a way through, with Prisons seizing control in the second half.
Speaking after the match, a vividly frustrated Saintfiet said he expected his team to overcome Prisons and was aghast to see his team drop points in their opening match. The Belgian said he couldn’t understand why his team failed to find the back of the net. “I don’t know why we couldn’t win; we had expected to win this match.”
Saintfiet refused to blame the bad pitch of Sokoine Stadium for the stalemate, which ensured Yanga started on the back foot in the title race after their rivals Simba and Azam FC both notched crucial wins against African Lyon and Kagera Sugar respectively. He said he was well aware of the poor state of most stadia in the country and prepared his players to play and win even on bad pitches.
Yanga players started strongly and enjoyed massive support compared to the home team but they struggled to stamp their authority in the encounter probably due to the poor condition of the playing field. For his side, Prisons coach Jumanne Charles praised the effort of his players after they battled to a barren draw against the former champions, Young Africans.
Prisons created more chances especially in the second half and should have got a result against their more illustrious foes save for poor finishing and some resolute defending by Yanga players. But Charles was delighted to start the season with a point against favourites Yanga. "It was a great point for us and I’m obviously delighted with it," Charles said.
“It was a fantastic team effort and today’s performance gives us confidence to go forward,” added Charles, who attributed their determined display to good preparation. Prisons’ outstanding performance was received with great pleasure among soccer fans in the region, including the Regional Commissioner, Abbas Kandoro, who called up Mbeya residents to rally behind the team.
Kandoro, who attended the game at the packed Sokoine Stadium, appealed to fans to ensure they offer Prisons, which is the only Premier League team in the region, massive support to enable it mount serious challenge in the league. “Today was a good game and I hope the people of Mbeya would be very happy.
But they need to support this team to keep this happiness. They should turn up in good number in all its matches. “Prisons are the reasons Yanga came to play here today, Prisons will bring Simba and many other teams that we have only been watching on TV… we should support this team so that it remains in the league.”