Simba host El Hadood
While history favours Simba whenever they host Northern African side in continental soccer, Haras El Hadood might prove otherwise in CAF Confederations first leg tie at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam tomorrow.
Since 1974 when Simba (under coach Paul West Gwivaha) came face to face with their first Egyptian opponent, Ghazl Mehalla-El-Kubra, Simba have been strong enough to resist a home defeat.
Since then, they have consistently been a thorn in the flesh of whichever Egyptian side visiting Tanzania, notching a victory however slim, or at least a draw but not defeat at home.
However, progression into the next round of continental championship has been subjective despite home wins with the exception of 2003 when they ousted Zamalek to win their first and last Champions League last eight berth under Kenyan coach, James Siang’a.
Buoyed by massive home ground advantage, in-form Simba have an arduous task to exhibit their prowess over El Hadood whose performance is reported to be peaking.
The Alexandria-based Egyptian top flight side El Hadood, or previously known as Sawahel, arrived in Dar es Salaam yesterday ahead of the showdown.
The contingent comprised 35 players and officials arrived yesterday morning and quickly rushed to a centrally located MovenPick Royal Palm hotel in the city for resting.
Hosts Simba should take serious precautions against the Egyptian side that has not won the premiership title since its establishment in 1950.
After long spells in the second division, El Hadood were promoted into the premiership berth in 2002-2003 season and subsequently changed their name from Sawahel.
Third place finish in the 2003-2004 season is their best ever achievement in the highly competitive premier league dominated by 34 times winners, National Al-Ahly.
El Hadood (Guard) are steadily making an impact in continental soccer, particularly the CAF Confederations Cup, having achieved a quarter-final slot in their two previous appearances.
The team, which finished fourth overall in the Egyptian premiership last season, are seventh overall in the league standings with title hope out of sight, trailing leaders Al Ahly by hefty 20 points margin.
They have four members of the Egyptian national soccer team that have won the continental title for a record seventh time.
Defenders Ahmed Said ‘Okka’ (26) and Ahmed Kamal (28) and strikers Ahmed Abdel-Ghani (28) and Ahmed Salama (29) have won calls by national team coach Hassan Shehata.
Of the four Ahmeds, Okka is highly capped player with ten appearances for the Shehata-coached national side.
Limited by Egyptian foreign players regulation inclusion into the domestic league to three, El Hadood has fully exploited the opportunity to recruit West African trio.
They have Cameroon’s goalkeeper Mathurin Kameni, Malian midfielder Abdoulaye Sidibé and Ghanaian striker Fofo Wisdom in their line up.
Simba’s talismanic striker Musa Hassan, or popularly known as Mgosi, Emmanuel Okwi, Uhuru Suleiman and Hilary Echesa have plenty to do before shaking the net of the visitors.
Mgosi remains Simba’s trump card in tomorrow’s clash.