HARARE – Zimbabwean players Thabani Kamusoko and Donald Ngoma are on cloud nine after helping their Tanzanian club Young Africans to league glory.
Yanga clinched the Ligi Kuu Bara — Tanzania’s Premier League — at the weekend in swashbuckling style ahead of second-placed Azam and third-placed Simba.
Hans Van der Pluijm’s men also now hold the record of most points by a Tanzanian champion after reaching the 71 point mark with a 2-0 victory over Mbaye City on Tuesday night.
The previous record was 62 which was set by Azam on their way to winning the 2014 title.
Yanga can extend their new record to 77 points if they win their last two matches against Ndanda and Maji Maji.
Besides breaking the points record, Yanga have scored an all-time best of 66 goals in the league which is likely to increase in those remaining two matches.
The previous goals record was also held by Azam from that 2014 season when they found the back of the net 51 times.
Ngoma’s forward partner Hamis Tambwe currently leads the scoring charts with 21 goals while the Zimbabwean has 16 strikes to his name in the league.
With such a prolific season under their belts, Ngoma and Kamusoko, who both joined the club from FC Platinum, are proud to have clinched the league title in only their maiden season with the Dar es Salaam-based club.
“It was very pleasing to win the league title here in Tanzania. Remember, it is always difficult to win any league title, especially for foreign players,” Kamusoko told the Daily News yesterday.
“The league here in Tanzania is very tough. We never play easy games because every team wants to beat Yanga.
“All the other clubs put in a lot of effort when they play against us so we have to be at our best every time we step onto the pitch.”
It is still a surreal feeling for the former FC Platinum, Dynamos and Njube Sundowns midfielder.
“I never thought I was going to win the league when we moved here. It has really not sunk in yet, maybe when we are handed the trophy on Sunday after the game against Ndanda,” he said.
“I think the turning point when I knew we would win the league arrived when we kept on winning and the two teams closest to us; Azam and Simba dropped points in the last few weeks.”
The burning desire to win a league medal was the driving force behind Kamusoko, who is still traumatised by his failure to land the Zimbabwe title with FC Platinum back in 2011.
After leading the title race for most of the season, the platinum miners surrendered their lead to DeMbare on the penultimate weekend and never recovered.
“As a player, I had never won a league title before having come close with both Dynamos and FC Platinum where I came in second place all the time,” he said.
“Losing the title to Dynamos while I was at Platinum hurt a lot and from there on I thrived to get a winners’ medal around my neck. And right now it really feels good to have done it.”
Just like Kamusoko, Ngoma is also pleased to have finally got the monkey off his back by earning his first league title.
The forward was also in the FC Platinum which suffered the heartache in 2011.
“In 2011, I thought we had won the league and never imagined that we would lose to Dynamos,” Ngoma recalls.
“After that defeat, it was difficult to cope and bounce back but I’m just enjoying this feeling for the first time.”
Ngoma, who has 21 goals in all competitions for Yanga this season, also spoke of the hard time their team faces in the Ligi Kuu Bara.
“Every game for Yanga is like a cup final because we are one of the big teams and all the other clubs want to beat us,” he said.
“There are no easy games for us here because of Yanga’s status so you have to put in a lot of hard work.”
Ngoma, who was prolific in front of goal, is satisfied with the contribution he has made for Yanga this season.
“I’m happy that I’ve been a good ambassador for my country. I have raised the Zimbabwe flag high by winning this league title,” he said.
“It was not easy, especially for us as foreign players because we had to quickly adapt to a new culture and playing style.”
While they have wrapped up the league title for now, there is still bigger fish to fry for Kamusoko and Ngoma.
This current Yanga squad is still on course to make more history by reaching the group stage of the African Confederation Cup.
The East African giants are just 90 minutes away from achieving this feat after defeating Sagrada Esperanca of Angola 2-0 in the first leg of their final qualifying round.
Yanga only need to defend that lead in the second leg next Wednesday set for Dundo, Angola.