The match played under floodlights before a capacity crowd, saw the Mainland premiership title holders dictating terms for most of the opening half, having notched their goal after 13 minutes through Burundian striker, Amisi Tambwe.
Having enjoyed a home ground advantage with their single goal lead up to half time mark, Yanga conceded a late equaliser through relentless efforts displayed by the Ugandans when second-half substitute Peter Lwasa proved them wrong with 14 minutes remaining.
Yanga players were shell-shocked with the late equaliser that completely frustrated them as they failed to come back into the game. After 1-1 draw in regulation time, the match was extended into shootout spell for tie-breaker, where Yanga fumbled with two of their strikers failing to score, while rejuvenated URA danced to the tunes of victory as they romped into tomorrow’s Mapinduzi Cup final.
“I struggled to believe that we were out of contention for the Mapinduzi Cup with all the good players at our midst”, said Pluijm after the match here.
“It’s unbelievable but that is how football game is, sometimes you enjoy victory but on the other hand you should come to terms in time of agonising loss like this”, said the Dutchman.
Pluijm has been disappointed by the way his players failed to dominate the game especially in the second half when the team exponentially flopped as time was running out.
The Dutchman believes his team was the best of all that featured in the tournament and there was no reason to lose at the semifinal stage. Yanga, like their closest rivals Simba ended their group stage matches with unbeaten run but both crashed out at the semifinal stages.
Simba were sent packing by Morogoro-based Mtibwa Sugar who enjoyed a single goal victory at the same venue, earlier in the day.
Pluijm said most of his players were nervous during the shootout and few looked confident for the showdown.” We trained for penalty shootouts but surprisingly players looked shocked and unwilling to take the penalties.
Yanga’s skipper who happens to be Mbuyu Twite said they have been disappointed to lose the match as they all geared up for tomorrow’s final.” After taking an early lead we all focused on the final match instead of finishing the semifinal business first”, said Twite.
Mtibwa Sugar will play the final against the Ugandan side at the Amaan Stadium tomorrow in tussle or the ten-million shillings jackpot. Losing finalist is entitled to take home half of the winner’s full package.
Yanga were expected to return to their base in Dar es Salaam, yesterday.