Can Mbao FC pull off great relegation escape?

11Jul 2020
Michael Mwebe
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Can Mbao FC pull off great relegation escape?

MBAO Football Club seems to be heading for the drop to the First Division League (FDL), but a recent resurgence means they are not down just yet.

Mbao FC forward, Waziri Junior Shentembo (R), jubilates with team mate, Babilas Chitembe, after the former ha scored for the outfit in a Vodacom Premier League clash with Mtibwa Sugar, which took place at CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on Wednesday. PHOTO; COURTESY OF MBAO FC

Four straight wins have kept their survival dream alive when almost everybody has written them off as a sure candidate of relegation alongside Singida United.

The Mwanza-based side restarted their 2019/20 Vodacom Premier League campaign with an emphatic defeat at the hands of Azam FC.

As they attempt to stave off relegation, they would have hoped the break in play means a change of fortunes. However, what seemed a near-impossible task anyway, can still become a great escape.

With four rounds of matches remaining, they are still capable of pushing for another miraculous relegation escape. While they still look a side without hope they have still managed to keep within touching distance of other relegation candidates.

Former Young Africans SC player Fred Felix ‘Minziro’, has taken over the coaching responsibilities at Mbao FC for the remainder of the season – which was essentially just filling the gap in the dugout.

But he has done his chances of getting the job full-time no harm at all, overseeing a somewhat miraculous turn around in recent rounds.

He has surely come too late to prevent relegation, but the caretaker has done what his predecessors, Hemed Morocco and Abdulmutik Haji, failed to do this season– and that is getting results.

In five games in charge, Minziro's side lost to Azam FC in his first game in charge, before beating a revenge-seeking Coastal Union side at CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza the following week.

He then oversaw 1-0 victory over Polisi Tanzania. Last weekend he pulled off a convincing 2-0 victory over relegation rivals Lipuli FC.

A hard fought 1-0 victory over another relegation threatened side, Mtibwa Sugar, has had even the most skeptical of fans thinking maybe they can pull off another miracle.

That recent run has produced 12 points– some 33% of their total for the whole season– and could be the start of something that keeps them up against the odds.

When soccer fans look at the remaining fixtures and the points gap it is easy to understand why Mbao FC seems to be overwhelming favourites for the drop with the bookmakers.

Three points off the play-off place with four games to play paints a bleak picture for them because their relegation rivals have not really taken their foot off the gas.

They face Simba in Dar es Salaam next week before a trip to JKT Tanzania in Dodoma, and they need to win at least one of these games.

A loss to Simba on Thursday could be penciled in, but their remaining home fixtures against Ndanda FC and Namungo FC are still a good opportunity to fight for their status in the promotion/relegation playoffs.

Their penultimate home game against Ndanda FC can become the mother of all six-pointers this season.

Defeat for either side there and things will be very, very bleak.

Ndanda FC, placed 15th on 37 points, are two points behind 19th-placed Mbao FC. Both sides have been in this situation before and survived.

After four years in the top flight, Mbao FC's luck might finally ran out but they could take solace from the performances of Waziri Junior Shentembo, who has tried his best to keep the them in the Vodacom Premier League.

Waziri has racked up 11 league goals this season. All told he has scored nearly a half of the team’s goal total.

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