HARUNA Niyonzima was instrumental in Simba’s 1-0 win over visitors, Rayon Sports of Rwanda in a thrilling match to mark Simba Day at the National Stadium yesterday.
Alongside the Ugandan international, Emanuel Okwi, the Ghanaian Nicholas Gyan outplayed their opponents in all 90 minutes of the entertaining game despite winning by a small margin.
Again it looked the team’s old line-up of Shiza Kichuya, Mzamiru Yassin and Mohamed Ibrahim, the scorer of the winning goal, was very effective and managed to cope well with new entries.
Mohamed Ibrahim alias ‘MO Ibrahim’ scored the lonely goal and winner for Simba after being set by Emmanuel Okwi who drove into the box before releasing a nice pass to the goal scorer.
To the visitors, it was beyond the doubt they were true champions of Rwanda with a good coordination in both attacking and defending, all being done cautiously and accurately.
Simba who dominated the game could have scored more goals against the Rwandese champions but John Bocco missed two good chances to double his side lead in both halves of the game.
Okwi, the Ugandan international striker signed by the Msimbazi street based club, showed he is still capable of doing big things in the field to prove wrong some of the people who were questioning his ability after displaying quality footwork against Rayon.
It was in the 16th minute when a strike from Mohamed Ibrahim earned Simba SC the vital goal and fans expected to see more goals after the opener.
Simba began the match on high foot, no wonder they were the first to test Lyon Sport keeper Mutuyimana Evariste as Shiza Kichuya played a nice ball inside the box but the visiting team’s defender cleared the danger to the advantage of his club.
The Reds enjoyed good possession throughout the opening half, putting their opponents on several occasions, chasing the ball of which the home side players could not surrender easily.
The newly signed striker, Emmanuel Okwi, who started the encounter was grounded in just 4th minute of the battle outside the penalty box and won himself a free-kick whose end product could not bear any tangible fruits.
However, Mugisha Gilbert made a surprise run into Simba’s territory in the 7th minute and had a face to face situation with the Msimbazi based giants keeper Aishi Manula, unfortunately, his powerless shot was no trouble at all to the former Azam FC custodian who really enjoyed every bit of the match.
Upon realizing that the visitors were leaky in their defence, the Reds began pressuring hard to find the leading goal of which they succeeded in 16th minute as Mohamed Ibrahim ignited the vocal stadium after beating Lyon’s keeper to change the digits on the score board in favour for the host team.
It was a moment everybody was waiting for to colour up this year’s Simba Day. The leading goal gave the hosting side some energy as they put more men into the frontline with the partnership of Emmanuel Okwi and John Bocco proving efficient on several occasions.
Bocco had his own moment into the match especially few minutes before the closure of opening chapter when he failed to chip the ball behind the empty goal of the Rwandans as their keeper was off his territory but the former Azam FC hit-man could not make most of the chance.
The second half saw the visitors coming into the game more rejuvenated hoping to level the deficit but marvellous play exposed by Simba’s backline led by captain himself Method Mwanjali who stood firm and executed well leadership roles.
Haruna Niyonzima was introduced into the contest mid-way of the second half and his presence was felt in 78th minute when his long range shot troubled Rayon goal stopper only to the rescue of his defender who cleared the ball from the danger.
Apart from the match also the club overlapping full-back left Mohamed Hussein was awarded for being elected by the club supporters as team’s best player of the previous season.