Pressure mounts as Simba host holders

National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Out of eleven Mainland premiership teams, holders Young Africans remain as one of the two sides capable of halting Simba’s quest to extend their unbeaten run to ten matches, as the rivals meet in a full blooded head-to-head contest at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.

Runaway leaders Simba kick off the game with psychological boost of not only stretching their winning streak, but also to underline supremacy over their top rivals.

Past league performance for either side will be of no use in deciding the outcome of the match. Whichever team is weak or strong still can not escape the vulnerability of conceding defeat or posting a win.

Each team has at times pulled shocking results to beat the other regardless of the prevailing form or standard of its footwork during the match.

Simba have posted more league victories against Young Africans in the past five years until on October 25 last year when they failed to respond to Bernard Mwalala’s lethal strike.

The teams battled to 2-2 draw during their return leg tie of the previous season played at the National Stadium on April 19 with Jerry Tegete pulling off a last-gasp equalizer seconds before referee Israel Nkongo blew the final whistle.

The tension-packed encounter has been the talk of the city for almost a week now while fans from either side taunting each other in terms of football supremacy.

The degree of rivalry between the teams has remained intact while most of street corners in Dar es Salaam and beyond have been decorated by flags bearing official colours of the teams.

For almost two weeks now, Simba have been at one of their hideouts in Zanzibar, a tradition that has been ubiquitous for the team whenever the match against their rivals draws closer.

Simba made just a brief visit to Dar es Salaam during their ninth round match against Azam last Saturday.

Pride rather than competitive football, will certainly take a centre stage between the teams while each try to avoid conceding a defeat which is likely to ignite chaos at their respective clubhouses.

Neither side stands as a pre-match favourite to post an outright win as results of the previous matches for decades have proved to have sharp contrast with prevailing football standards of either teams.

It’s time coaches of the two rival teams will be under intense spotlight by their fans and team officials as they take today’s match to be the benchmark for successful premiership title bid.

Yanga’s newly signed Serbian coach Kostadin Papic will be tested to the limits as fans of the team would like to weigh his professional competence after taking the team hardly a month.

Simba’s Zambian coach Patrick Phiri needs to prove his worth before the team after an exhilarating performance when he took the team to unique nine-match unbeaten run so far.

However, both coaches will be busy to meet satisfaction of their fans while banking heavily on performance of their chosen line-ups.

Simba’s blend of locals and Uganda import trio of Emmanuel Okwi, Hilary Echesa and Joseph Owino might be the live ammunitions to spearhead attacks while keeping intact their league record for the season.

While Yanga will be banking on their tricky striking duo of Mrisho Ngasa and Jerry Tegete, Simba have slippery Musa Hassan and Ramadhan Chombo upfront should the respective coaches field the players.

Yanga, a team that has recruited ten foreigners, will have their Serbian coach Papic spoilt for choice against the hottest title contenders, Simba.

Basically, he will be depending much from his assistant coach Spaso Skolovisk in formulating strategies to win the match.

Each team’s officials have announced to set aside cash incentives as morale booster for players to post victory in the match.

Simba play Mtibwa Sugar in their final match to wrap up the first half of the season, another hard nut to crack opponents.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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