Six times champions Simba underlined their supremacy over Sudanese champions El Mereikh after cruising into Sunday’s Kagame Cup final following an emphatic 5-4 penalties victory at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
It was a tense and nerve-jangling semifinal encounter that extended into 120 minutes after the teams had battled to 1-1 draw at the end of the time to set up the dramatic shootouts.
Again ut was the heroics of goalkeeper Juma Kaseja who saved the additional sixth penalty to send shivers into the El Mereikh camp as their Zambian import Jonas Sakwaha had his decisive penalty saved.
The visitors were the second to take the penalties and scored, the same for the host side who had Jerry Santo on the score sheet for the opening shot.
Both teams had their second penalties missed as substitutes Collins Kelechi and Salum Machaku for El Mereikh and Simba, respectively, shooting wide.
The three other penalties were well converted as Simba had Salum Kanoni, Said Nassor and Patrick Mafisango into the score sheet.
El Mereikh penalties were converted into goals by Mohamed Mugadam, Badr Eldod and their Egyptian goalkeeper Esam Elhadar.
Simba were the first to take the additional penalty through Ulimboka Mwakingwe who hammered the final nail into the coffers of the Sudanese side that reached the 2009 final losing at home to Rwanda team Atraco.
It was the shocking moment when Kaseja saved Jonas Sakwaha’s final penalty to usher jubilation by Simba fans inside the Stadium and beyond.
The match kicked off in explosive pace and the visitors looked sharp upfront.
El Mereikh’s Rime Adiko broke the deadlock after 13 minutes as Simba goalkeeper Juma Kaseja failed to grab the ball properly during a melee inside the box.
Simba defenders had failed to clear an in swing aerial cross floated from the right flank.
Simba regained composure and launched attacks with defender said Nassoro making supply upfront.
Amir Maftah was at his best with dribbling skills as he frequently tormented the visitors on the left side of the midfield.
Ulimboka Mwakingwe cancelled Adiko’s opener after 25 minutes to beating El Mereikh goalkeeper Elhadary with a powerful goal-bound glancing header to make full use of Shija Mkina’s cross.
Simba fans exploded with joy as relief prevailed to mock their rivals on the right hand side of the main stand.
The teams ended the first half while tied at one goal apiece. Near misses were frequent for both sides and Simba’s profligacy was again observed.
El Mereikh took midfield possesionfor most of the second half as Simba deployed infrequent counter attacks.
Samba had to replace striker Haruna Moshi for a new sign up Rogers Isihaka.
There was no goal for either side as the regulation time elapsed. Tension was high for both fans and player f each side as the extra half an hour was added.
Still neither side managed to break the tier. Then came the twelve penalties that saw the visitor’s missed two against one of the finalists.
Simba will be playing in the Sunday’s final against winner of today’s semifinal clash between Young Africans and St. George of Ethiopia.
This is Simba’s first Kagame Cup final since the 2003 when they lost to Uganda’s sports Club Villa in Kampala.
Juma Kaseja, Amir Maftah/ Salum Kanoni, Juma Nyoso, Nassoro Said, Kelvin Yondani, Jerry Santo, Haruna Moshi/ Rogers Isihaka, Mussa Mgosi/Salum Machaku, Shija Mkina, Patrick Mafisango and Ulimboka Mwakingwe.
Isam Elhadary, Balla Gabir, Mosa Eltaiyb, Nasr Omer, Ahmed Elbasha, Badr Eldod, Jonas Sakwaha/Collins Kelechi, Magm Abdallah, Mussa Omer/ Steve Worgu, Jonas Sakwaha, Mohamed Mugadam.