MIXED reactions greeted the revised fixture of the Mainland Premier League, with giants Simba and defending champions Young Africans approving it despite having some few reservations.
Yanga General Secretary, Charles Boniface Mkwasa, said his club has no problem with the revised fixture, but said dropping midweek matches will cost the clubs dearly.
The Tanzania Premier League Board (TPLB) on Sunday revised the 2017/18 Premier League fixture to contain some irregularities. The fixture was revised following confusion that resulted to the cancellation of several matches just a week after the season kick off.
It appeared that the previous fixture did not consider dates of matches organised by the world football governing body FIFA and those of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“We respect what they (TPLB) say and it is important for our league fixture to be in line with international (FIFA and CAF) calendar,” said Mkwasa.
However, Mkwasa said the fixture shows that all matches will be played on weekends and this he said, will cripple the clubs financially because it will increase the running costs. “It will be tricky, say travelling to Mbeya and play only one match there and return to Dar es Salaam,” he said.
Or else, Mkwasa said it will require the clubs to stay for a whole week in an away station to wait for another match, which he described as too costly. He suggested that the mid-week matches be restored but kick off altered especially in venues with floodlights, so as to attract fans and raise more gate revenues.
Regarding Simba and Yanga playing their away matches at Azam Complex, Mkwasa said it was a good idea and as Azam FC have rights to play their matches at their home turf.
However, Mkwasa said safety and security of players, fans and officials should highly be taken it account to avoid tragedies. He insisted that it will be tricky to accommodate Simba and Yanga fans at a venue with a smaller capacity, unless proper arrangements were made to make sure that only fans with tickets in accordance with the capacity are allowed into the venue and those without tickets should not be allowed anywhere close to the stadium.
“It is clear that Simba and Yanga have huge fan base and hosting their matches at quite a smaller venue like Azam Stadium needs some careful organisation,” he said.
On their side, Simba also said they have no problem with the fixture and dismissed suggestions that the changes were made to favour the Msimbazi Reds. Initially, Simba were lined up to face Azam FC at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, but the fixture was shelved to today.
However, according to the revised fixture, the match has been rescheduled again. In a new fixture, Simba and Azam will renew rivalry in a match to write a new chapter in the country’s football history as it will be played for the first time at the Azam Complex in Chamazi this Saturday.
While the club’s Spokesman, Haji Manara could not be reached for comments, Head Coach; Joseph 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; in which they put seven clear goals in their opening league match of the season at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on August 26th, this year.
Azam FC on their side, were pleased to host Simba and Yanga at the Azam Complex after battling for the right for quite sometimes.
Azam Spokesman, Jaffar Idd said playing at home will give their team 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.”
Other league match to be played on Saturday will be between Tanzania Prisons and Majimaji of Songea at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya.