The Ice Makers needed the victory that should motivate them after their poor recent run in the top flight
Azam FC picked up an inspiring 2-0 win over Magereza FC in the third round showdown of the Shield Cup on Saturday at the Chamazi Sports Complex.
In a bid to get a much-needed victory, George Lwandamina mixed regulars and non-regulars in the starting team against the lower division side. In goal, David Mapigano – who has become a regular first-teamer since arrival, was not in the squad as Wilbol Maseke was preferred instead.
The 2019/20 best defender Nicholas Wadada, Ayoub Lyanga, Mudathir Yahya, Obrey Chirwa, Never Tigere, and Idd Seleman were the usual first-teamers who were deployed against Prisons.
Although it largely looked a defensive approach by the Ice Makers, the former Shield Cup champions looked comfortable in launching direct attacks as well as strikes from the wings. They duly opened the scoring in the 23rd minute.
Chirwa headed home from a corner kick that was delivered by Tigere, and the opener rejuvenated the home side, who would have gone into the break with a bigger margin had the visitors not denied them on three major occasions.
Tigere found the back of the net in the 65th minute when his fierce shot from inside the 18-yard area gave the 2013/14 Premier League champions a deserved lead.
Although Azam camped in Magereza’s half for the better part of the second half, they did not manage to increase the scoreline due to a combination of their own failure to convert the opportunities created and the opponents’ resilience to deal with the attacks.
The win should be an encouraging result for Lwandamina and his team, who had begun the Premier League season on a high before they started faltering from matchday eight.
Coach Aristica Cioaba had to leave the club after a 1-0 loss to Yanga SC but since then – despite the appointment of the experienced Lwandamina – the results have not been convincing.
In nine league games, Azam have picked just eight points from a possible 27 as their title ambitions continue to fade.
On Sunday, Namungo will entertain the Green Warriors in their respective Shield Cup games as they fight to progress and perhaps surpass the achievement made in the last tournament, when they sailed all the way before falling to Simba in the final.
They did earn a first ever continental slot, which represented some consolation.
Another Premier League side that will be in action is Mtibwa Sugar as they will face off with the Division Two side Geita Gold on Sunday.
Simba, the reigning champions, will be up at home against Maji Maji FC. It will be the first domestic duty for the Reds of Msimbazi since taking part in the Caf Champions League first round against Platinum FC of Zimbabwe, where they were defeated 1-0 in Harare.