Tanzania’s high rated football archrivals Simba and Young Africans meet in the first leg of the Mainland premiership at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam this evening.
This is the third meeting for the teams this year but the first for the opening premiership season as tension is really high for players, fans and officials of either side.
Title holders Simba will be kicking of the game with great composure following their flying start in the new season having posted four back to back victories to open a two-point lead at the top of the standings table.
Besides the flying start, Simba have an edge over their rivals in terms f psychological boost having handed them a 5-0 thrashing during their last meet on May 6 at the same venue.
Despite the urgency for either side to post a win, it’s Young Africans who will be under pressure as they look forward to avenge the worst May 6 defeat and restore hope and pride to their officials and fans.
Yanga will be kicking off the game with bruises after dropping five points following their draw with Tanzania Prisons on the league’s opening round on September 15.
They also suffered a 3-0 goal defeat at the hands of Mtibwa Sugar in Morogoro few days after the Mbeya stalemate.
Neither side would be ready to concede a defeat but should Yanga lose would open a huge gap of point to chase their rivals.
With hundred percent perfection, Simba have opened a five-point gap over Yanga and another win today they will be extending the gap to possibly eight points.
This is not the kind of a situation the Yanga camp would like to hear and should it happen there will be a huge witch-hunting and possible chaos within the club, so history suggests.
While Yanga have recently fired Belgian coach, who trained the team for 77 days, Simba have maintained their Serbian tactician Milovan Circovic who was in charge during the five-goal demolition on May 6.
Yanga have at their midst a new coach Ernest Brandts who used to coach Rwanda champions APR.
Brandts has been with the team for a couple of days after signing a contract over the weekend in Dar es Salaam to replace Belgian Tom Saintfiet.
A win for Yanga would automatically bring praises and accolades to stand-in coach Fred Felix who was in charge when the team suffered humiliating defeat to their rivals on May 6.
Yanga will as expected be highly explosive to ensure they avenge the May 6 defeat but it is not known what is in store for their rivals.
Three players will be missing in Simba’s line up for today.
Simba’s Ugandan international Emmanuel Okwiri, overlapping defender Amir Maftah and the late Patrick Mafisango are conspicuous miss in today’s clash.
The trio played a crucial role during the historic 5-goal victory.
While Mafisango died in a car crash barely a week after the May 6 victory, Okwiri and Maftah picked red cards to justify their omission in Simba’s line up for today.
However, winners of today’s match does not depend on the current form of either side. It has happened in the past that the team with good footwork has lost to another as football is decided on the number of goals scored and not the brilliance of the footwork, however impressive.
Other Mainland premiership fixtures for today are scattered at Sheikh Amri Abeid, Azam Complex and Mabatini in Arusha, Chamazi and Mlandizi, respectively.
JKT Oljoro hosts Tanga’s Coastal Union in Arusha, African Lyon host Toto Africa at Chamazi and Kagera Sugar visit Ruvu Shooting at Mlandizi.