It`s a do-or-die battle for Simba and Yanga
Excitement, fear, anxiety and expectations are gripping soccer fans in and outside Dar es Salaam, as soccer giants and arch-rivals Simba and Yanga clash in a Vodacom Premier League match at the National Stadium today.
The agenda of Simba, fondly known by the Kiswahili expression that loosely translates as the Red Msimbazi Street Boys (Wekundu wa Msimbazi), is to sustain the five-year victory pattern against their rivals in competitive tournaments.
On their part, the green-and-yellow Jangwani boys, plus their fans, have a twin-agenda of terminating the humiliation of successive defeats and retain their position on top of the league.
Yanga`s supremacy is expressed by 24 points while Simba are fourth with 13 points. Going by performance in the on-going league, Yanga is a better outfit, while Simba`s hasn`t been very impressive, losing even to underdogs by wide margins.
Last week, Simba suffered an unbelievable 4-1 defeat to Mwanza`s Toto Africa, not long after succumbing to Azam FC, triggering an intra-club conflict that culminated in a rowdy crowd pelting stones at the house of their Chairman Hassan Dalali.
The embittered Dalali resigned in protest, but resumed the stewardship after a few days.
Should the Msimbazi Reds suffer a third consecutive league defeat today, the conflict is bound to resurface with greater fury.
For in local soccer politics, defeat by either of the giants to small, inconsequential teams is preferable and tolerable to a similar outcome engineered by the arch-rival.
Having met in 22 encounters since 2000, Simba have beaten Yanga 10 times, forced six draws and lost only four times.
Speaking to The Guardian on Sunday ahead of today`s encounter, Syllversaid Mziray, Simba`s Assistant Coach, said the focus was on rectifying shortfalls that led to poor performance in the recent matches.
“We need to rectify a few things, but I only want to re-focus on our positive achievements in the past.
We have experienced a negative spiral and we have to break it as quickly as possible, notably at this testing moment,“ said Mziray, who joined the team early last week to support Krasimir Bezinski, the Head Coach. On their part, Yanga officials and supporters are confident of victory.
A staunch Yanga supporter and former Deputy Minister for Labour, Youth Development and Sports, Mudhihir M. Mudhihir, in a radio interview, said that Yanga are well placed to beat Simba given that the club has the best players and is in better form than previously.
“Yanga have suffered at the hands of Simba consecutively and now it is their time. If they fail, then they will never do so again,“ he said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Dar es Salaam Special Zone, Commander Suleiman Kova, has cautioned all football supporters that tight security will be put in place as a measure to curb hooliganism during and after the match.
He told this reporter on phone that cameras have been strategically installed to monitor the goings-on during the match, to facilitate swift action against troublemakers.
The police officer stressed that the law should be observed and that fans of either side should leave the pitch silently after the match, warning that defiance would compel law enforcers to swing into action.
Kova pointed out, too, that those anticipating financial gains from selling fake tickets should drop the idea because all tickets will be screened to determine their legitimacy.
Entry to the stadium will be from 12 noon and the match kicks off at 4pm.
- SOURCE: Sunday Observer