Young Africans (Yanga SC) striker Saidi Ntibazonkiza has revealed he was just 50% fit despite playing for the full 90 minutes against Simba SC at Amani Stadium on Wednesday.
After a goalless draw in regular time, the Burundian stepped up to score a winning penalty in the shootout, eventually helping Wananchi to a 4-3 win. The 33-year-old has now revealed the circumstances behind his inclusion in the team.
“On Wednesday, I was not in good shape for the game, I was 50% fit but my teammates needed me and I had to help them,” Ntibazonkiza, who joined the Jangwani Street-based side, told Goal.
“I had not trained well for about three weeks but I managed to play for 90 minutes. Yes, we managed to win but once I get back to full fitness, I will make our fans happy.”
The Intamba m’Urugamba forward has also shared what was in his mind when he stepped up to take the deciding penalty with the teams tied at 3-3.
“When I went to take that final penalty, all I was thinking about was a win,” Ntibazonkiza continued.
“I usually do not like to talk a lot, my talking happens on the pitch. I give my fans what to talk about with a good performance when I have an opportunity.
“The coach always believes in me, and not only him, but my teammates as well. They needed me, and I told myself, why not give it a try? Furthermore, I came [at Yanga] to work so I had to play for the sake of my team.”
His teammate Haruna Niyonzima was also delighted for helping the 27-time Tanzania Mainland League champions win the league. He went on to reveal why he exchanged his jersey with Meddie Kagere.
“It was a very tough game considering it was a final but eventually we won the competition,” Niyonzima told Goal.
“I respect Kagere despite me being his captain in the national team. He plays for a good team which is one of the best and I took his jersey to remind me I won a final against him in 2021.
“But as you are aware, Simba and Yanga are sworn rivals and friendship is not on the pitch.”