AFTER a week of international break, the Mainland Premier League action resumes this weekend with the top spot battle seemed to the biggest thriller.
The league went on a recess to pave way for national teams across the continent to battle in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
Taifa Stars travelled to Kampala, Uganda where they forced a barren draw against their hosts The Cranes at Mandela (Namboole) Stadium last Saturday.
Two matches will be on the menu on Friday -- African Lyon will battle it out against Coastal Union at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, while Mwadui FC will have a date against Azam FC at the Mwadui Complex in Shinyanga in a match that will kick off at 14 hours. Both Coastal Union and Azam have the opportunity to go top of the table if they win their respective assignments.
A win for Azam, who are placed second on the log after collecting maximum six points from two matches, will take them above leaders Mbao FC to the helm on nine points.
However, it will be a tough call for Azam, because Mwadui will be seeking to notch their first win in the league this season. The Shinyanga lads are without a point from two outings and are placed last but one in the 20-team league.
Coastal Union, who are placed sixth on the log with five points, can as well go top of the table if they win on Friday and Azam fail to pick maximum points in Shinyanga.
African Lyon are 16th on the table with two points from two matches. However, the attention puller will be on Saturday, where defending champions Simba SC face a tricky away duel to Ndanda FC.
It is a venue that Simba will be hoping to rediscover their goals scoring instincts after being criticised of blunt attack.
Simba registered a slim 1-0 win over Tanzania Prisons in their opening match at the National Stadium on August 22nd this year, before improving to win 2-0 against Mbeya City at the same venue on August 27th this year.
Goal shy striking force has been a shortcoming for Simba this season, compared to last season in which they opened with a 7-0 win thumping over Ruvu Shooting with prodigal son, Emmanuel Okwi scoring four times.
Many Simba fans had hoped that their team will open this season’s campaign in a similar fashion but with Okwi missing through injury, the Msimbazi Reds slightly struggled upfront.
Ugandan born, Rwanda striker, Meddie Kagere has so far netted all goals for Simba in the league this season and carried his scoring form to his national team ‘Amavubi’ in a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Côte d’Ivoire in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier clash over the weekend.
Nangwanda Sijaona has not been a fortress for Ndanda whenever they host Simba, as the Dar es Salaam giants have always enjoyed smooth riding there.
Simba are currently placed third on the table on six points same as Azam, Mtibwa Sugar and Stand United but are separated by superior goal difference.
Other matches on the day will see Tanzania Prisons facing Ruvu Shooting at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya, while Lipuli FC from Iringa will confront Mtibwa Sugar of Morogoro at the Samora Stadium in Iringa.
The day will also witness league leaders Mbao FC taking on JKT Tanzania at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza, Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC) and Singida United will clash at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, while Biashara United will come face to face with Kagera Sugar at the Karume Stadium in Mara.
League record winners Young Africans with 27 titles will be in action on Sunday, when they battle it out against Stand United at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, while tail enders Mbeya City will confront Mwanza’s Alliance FC at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya.
Yanga have played one match so far and are placed tenth on three points.