AZAM FC prevented free scoring Simba from finding the back of the net, as they fought to a barren draw in the Mainland Premier League match at the Chamazi Complex in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The ice-cream makers’ team yesterday managed to pick a point at their home ground against Simba to share the spoils in a thrilling Mainland Premier League encounter held at the Azam’s Chamazi Complex for the first time in history.
The 7,000 capacity stadium was fully packed by Simba supporters, who painted it with red and white colours, making hosts Azam look as if they were playing away. Contrary to what most people feared that there might be over crowding, the atmosphere inside the venue was calm with spectators enjoying every minute of the clash.
Azam begun the thrilling match on throttle but it was the visitors who had first attempt on the goal in just four minute, as Azam goalkeeper, Razak Abalora, came to the rescue punching away Ghanaian striker, Nicolas Gyan’s header inside the box for an abortive corner kick. Simba desperately searched for an early opener and in the 19th minute, John Bocco, nearly punished his former employer.
The towering striker was allowed to go for a free header in the box, connecting a good cross from defender, Erasto Nyoni but the ball went few inches over the cross bar. Simba survived a real scare in the 32nd minute, when Ghanaian striker, Yahya Mohamed found space in the box but his shot was bravely parried off by Aishi Manula.
A minute before the interval, Shiza Kichuya ought to have scored for Simba, but the diminutive winger wasted a glorious chance, firing wide three yards out A lot of action was witnessed at the midfield section where both teams injected game changer players in the first 45 opening minutes.
Simba deployed Ghanaian holding midfielder, James Kotei, industrious Muzamiru Yassin and creative Rwandese attacking midfielder Haruna Niyonzima to battle with Azam’s skipper, Himid Mao, Stephen Kingue and Salum Aboubakar. While Kichuya was switching flanks, Gyan operated just behind Bocco and they looked lethal only tat they failed to make the most from chances created.
Ending the opening stanza goalless was rather a positive results for the hosts as they managed to put under watch Simba lethal hitman Bocco, who gave the ice-makers last man Yakub Mohamed a torrid evening.
After the break, Azam introduced Frank Domayo, replacing Enock Agyei in a technical switch done by the Croatian tactician Aristica Cioba. The host made their second change in the 72 minute as injured Daniel Amoah was ejected for Ramadhani Singano, as the breath taking game reached boiling point with each side eager to snatch the match lead.
And it was Azam who were slightly on the front foot, creating some few scoring chances in the 56th and 57th minutes, but failed to translate them into goals.
However, Simba were calm in defence well marshalled by skipper, Method Mwanjale, making smooth transition from the rear to their opponent’s goal. After an hour mark, Bocco’s snap shot was easily gathered by agile goalie.
Simba’s Cameroonian coach Joseph Omog, altered his starting 11 in the 64th minute, as he called Kichuya on the bench for Said Ndemla, hoping to inject some creativity in the final third and win midfield dominancy, which was being enjoyed by the home team.
Immediately after his introduction, Ndemla almost got his name into the score sheet in the 70th minute. He manoeuvred past defenders but his powerful shot sailed wide.
Azam’s Mbaraka Yusuph picked a knock and was replaced by Yahya Zayd, while Simba introduced in Mohamed Ibrahim with nine minutes to go. He replaced Gyan, who played his debutant league match for his new club. As the game wane out, Salum Aboubakar nearly scored for Azam, but he drilled his low shot slightly wide.
The results saw Simba remain top of th table with four points from two games, the same as Azam who are third, but they too are separated on goal difference. Tanzania Prisons went second of the table on four points after being held to a 2-2 draw by Majimaji FC of Songea at the Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya.