The focus is on the clash between Young Africans and Azam fixed for Saturday, 5 March 2016 at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam.
With ten matches to go, holders Yanga sit atop the standings courtesy superior goal difference over second-placed Azam.
There is still plenty of time for a twist or two in the title race but this encounter is seen by many to be the real title decider. Having played equal number of matches, a win for either side will be considered a huge step towards the crown.
In anticipation of a tough battle, Yanga are currently in Zanzibar for a special camp to prepare for the epic clash. The ‘yellow and green’ boys similarly held a training camp on the island in the build-up to the Dar es Salaam derby clash with bitterest rivals Simba last month, which they won 2-0.
There is hardly a difference in quality between Yanga and Azam even though there is a sharp contrast in style. Yanga are more of an attacking side. They have scored 44 goals while conceding only nine in 19 matches.
On the other hand, Azam are more defensive despite leaking two more goals than Yanga so far. It is a style that has drawn criticism from fans but coach Stewart Hall remains unfazed having enjoyed success with it during the 2015 CECAFA-Kagame Cup where they triumphed without conceding a goal in normal time.
Head to head record
Looking at the head-to-head record in the league encounters, they have hit equal numbers of draws, wins and defeats. In their past 15 league meetings since Azam got promoted to the topflight in the 2008/9 season, they have played out to five draws while managing five wins each. When the two teams met earlier in the season, they settled for a 1-1 draw at the same venue thanks to goals from Donald Ngoma (Yanga) and an equalizer from Ivorian hitman, Kipre Tchetche.
Yanga will rely on the attacking partnership of Burundian Amissi Tambwe and Zimbabwe-import Ngoma. The pair has 25 league goals between them. With 15 goals, Tambwe is the club’s leading goal scorer but it is Ngoma, beyond doubt who is the more dangerous player in the Yanga set up. The 27-year old striker has been netting and providing assists since his joining the capital-based club last July.
It is such kind of battle that Ivorian duo Pascal Wawa and Tchetche justify their wages for Azam. The contribution and importance of former El Merreikh defender, Wawa to his side defence cannot be underestimated. His leadership and organizational skills at the back has been one of the reasons Azam have emerged with a draw against Yanga in the last three meetings. His towering presence and all round defensive attributes helps Azam who employ the 3-5-2 system to stay much more compact against an all-out attack wave from Yanga.
Last season, Azam had to do a guard of honour for the then newly elected champions, Yanga, and have reiterated they don’t want to repeat this time.