SIMBA eased into the last eight of Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC) after edging out African Lyon 1-0 in their round of 16 tie at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Burundian striker, Laudit Mavugo scored the only goal of the match in the 57th minute, in a match largely dominated by Simba side, who squandered many scoring chances. However, Simba’s Cameroonian tactician Joseph Omog would be pleased with his side’s passage into the quarter-finals of the reinstated Federation Cup.
The game followed similar script to the previous encounter between the two teams in terms of possession. Simba enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but without turning their dominance into result as the first half ended in goalless draw.
During their last meeting, a league game in November, Lyon produced a solid defensive performance before upsetting Simba with a last-gasp winner. But Charles Otieno’s boys this time opted for open game, but maintained their defensive discipline for most part of the encounter.
Cameroonian goalkeeper Rostand Youthe was a solid rock between the posts throughout the encounter and denied Simba attackers a couple of chances with stunning saves. Simba expectedly were on the offensive from the word go and created a couple of half chances early on without testing Youthe. Their first attempt on goal came after 13 minutes courtesy of Said Ndemla, whose shot from outside the area was easily saved by the Lyon keeper.
Juma Luizio, who was at the heart of Simba’s attacking trio which included Ibrahim Ajibu and Mavugo, made a good run, skipped past his marker before unleashing a powerful shot that Youthe did well to keep out in the 18th minute. Ajibu was next to try his luck as Simba desperately pushed for the opener but his effort after 21 minutes missed the target by a couple of inches.
Midfielder Jonas Mkude, who returned to the starting line-up after sitting out of the previous two games against Majimaji and Tanzania Prisons, forced another stunning save from Youthe after he let fly with a blockbuster 30 yards out.
Ajibu skillfully teased Hassan Isihaka inside Lyon’s box but to his disappointment he hit a powerful shot well over the bar from right inside the penalty area.
The second half followed similar pattern with Simba seeing more of the ball while pressing high up on the pitch but Lyon’s defence well marshalled by Hamad Waziri and former Simba player Isihaka, kept the Reds at bay. Simba won a free-kick in good position in the 55th minute but Abdi Banda’s decent effort narrowly missed the target.
The Reds’ long wait for the breakthrough eventually came when Ajibu set up Mavugo inside the area shortly before the hour mark. The Burundian striker shrugged off defender Isihaka and squeezed the ball past on-rushing Youthe. This was his third goal in as many matches.
Lyon raised the tempo of their game after going down as they pushed for an equaliser but found it difficult to get past Simba’s defence under Banda and Novat Lufunga. Mohamed Ibrahim made his return after a long lay-off and added verve to Simba’s attack.
The skilful midfielder was denied by the woodwork in the 84th minute. Fellow substitute Shiza Kichuya twice forced Youthe into making fine saves as Simba attempts to add to their tally went in vain.
In the end Omog and his charges had to settle for a 1-0 win, which takes them to the quarter-finals of the Federation Cup, whose winner would represent the country in CAF Confederation Cup.