Tension, determination rise as Simba, Yanga eye supremacy
As the Mainland Vodacom Premier League inches towards the climax, the defending champions Simba and their arch-rivals, Yanga, are front-runners.
All indications are that this year`s league is more challenging than last year`s, whereby local soccer fans focused attention on Simba and Yanga as the dominant contenders for soccer supremacy.
Prison kicked off their league campaign very impressively and managed to dominate the 14-team championship almost throughout the first round before losing steam in the second round.
Newly-promoted Toto African, initially laughed off as underdogs, proved cynics wrong by putting up an impressive performance that catapulted them to fourth place up to this final stage.
The team, whose name loosely translates as “African Kid“, outshone many teams that could be characterized as “adults“ by comparison.
The campaign by Simba and Yanga to climb the ladder and reach the top rung started in the second round.
Yanga managed to beat Prisons at the pilot`s seat, leaving Simba at mid-position by a wide margin points-wise.
Engineered by their new Serbian Coach Corkovick Milovan, fresh life was breathed into Simba, enabling them to narrow the team`s gap with Yanga, and climbing to the relatively comfortable third place with 36 points.
Yanga are top on 43 points while Prisons are second with 38.
Second-placed Prisons remain with only two games after losing 2-1 in their Sunday`s match against Kagera Sugar at the Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya. On their part, Simba and Yanga have four games pending each.
Obviously, Simba and Yanga are the only teams which are likely to battle for the 2008 Mainland Premier League championship.
Yanga remain with two hot games, against Prisons and Simba.
According to the Premier League`s fixture, Simba and Yanga will meet on April 30 in the last match at Dar es Salaam`s National Stadium.
In the first round, Simba beat Yanga 1-0 at the Jamhuri Stadium in Morogoro last year.
Their coming match is expected to be an epic showdown, considering that it would be the last match that will determine who is who.
A do-or-die approach is applicable to the archrivals. Simba`s mission will be to block Yanga stripping them of their soccer “kingship“, while Yanga will be all out to regain the “kingship“ that was “snatched“ from them by Simba in 2006.
Both teams are trained by Serbian coaches and are also competing in the CAF championships.
But while Simba and Yanga are eying the title, there are others who stand in the relegation zone – Manyema, Pan African and Coastal Union.
Pan Africa are at the bottom with 17 points, still have three games to go. Manyema are placed 13th with 20 points while Coastal Union are in the 12th with 22.