SUBSTITUTE Adam Salamba missed a penalty kick in the 84th minute of the thrilling match as Simba were held to a 1-1 draw by Asante Kotoko in yesterday’s Simba Day friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Simba’s captain on the day Emmanuel Okwi netted the equaliser late in the second half, cancelling out Obed Owuso’s first half strike. Okwi is the only player to have featured for the inaugural Simba Day way back in 2009, out to have scored more goals in the match had it been not the outstanding goalkeeping by Kotoko’s Felix Annan.
Lanky striker and Mainland Premier League record goal scorer with 97 goals in ten seasons, John Bocco missed the game because he is still nursing injuries. Impressive holding midfielder, Jonas Mkude, who is the longest serving player in Simba, featuring for the past ten years was once again a pillar in the pack of the midfield alongside new signing Zambian midfielder, Cletous Chama.
Chama showed class and creativity in the final third of the opponent, creating countless of goal scoring opportunities. For Simba, the Zambian is really a huge coup. It was a good start for Simba, who within the opening six minutes created four possible scoring chances but all of them were misused as the visiting side showed resilient at their backline.
Okwi missed the best of all the chances in the 2nd minute as he was left in the box face to face with Asante Kotoko’s goalkeeper Felix Annan but the later took much time to unleash his shot until it was cleared for safety by captain Amos Frimpong.
Again, just five minutes into the game, Simba’s new striker Meddie Kagere squandered another good chance as his short range volley went few inches off the target. The partnership of Zambian import attacking midfielder Chama, Ghanaian James Kotei, Shiza Kichuya and Mkude at the hub of Simba middle of terrain was impressive to watch. They were setting the tempo while exchanging slick passing game.
However, Simba suffered a blow in the 14th minute as right wingback Shomari Kapombe was forced out of the contest after picking up an injury and was replaced by Ghanaian Nicholas Gyan.
Goalkeeper, Aishi Manula was dangerously tested at his territory in the 31st minute when he stretched to deny Sougne Yacouba’s strike which otherwise could have gone in. The entire stadium was on its feet two minutes before the interval when Kagere’s thumping strike was punched over the cross bar by Kotoko’s keeper Annan for a fruitless corner.
Asante Kotoko scored the leading goal in the 44th minute through Owuso after launching a swift counter attack, leaving Manula exposed. At the restart, Simba came refreshed making several runs into the enemy’s area but again the guest team was well organised at their defense backed by outstanding keeper Annan.
Another substitution for Simba came in the 57th minute, when Kotei was benched for Hassan Dilunga as the going seemed tough for the host team. Kagere was benched for Salamba in the 63rd minute in what seemed as a tactical move to continue pressing for an equaliser.
Salamba had to partner with Okwi in goal searching responsibilities in a match attended by 52, 038 fans. The visiting team made their first change in the 69th minute as the goalscorer Obed Owuso was called out for Fredrick Boateng.
Salamba missed a glittering chance in the 63rd minute, after he brilliantly controlled Asante Kwasi’s cross and with only keeper to beat, he dillydallied with the ball and released a feeble shot that was easily blocked by keeper.
However, after pushing hard for an equliser, Simba finally pulled level in the 75th when lethal striker Okwi showed his poaching instincts with a clever finish from Kichuya’s nice assist. With seven minutes to go, Salamba won a penalty after being pulled down by a defender following a clever pass from Chama.
The former Lipuli striker stepped up but again disappointed with a feeble kick that was easy collected by agile goalie.