It is yet another derby day, as Mainland Premier League giants Simba and Young Africans cross swords at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.
Hundreds of thousands of football fans are expected to throng the stadium to watch teams which have, for years, arguably brought a lot of excitement and disappointment to winners and losers respectively battle for maximum points in the Mainland Premier League.
Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad is expected to be the guest of honour in today’s match. Simba versus Yanga is the greatest match in the history of organised football in the country.
Like Barcelona versus Real Madrid clash, this is also a battle that encompasses all the flair, daring, skill, enmity, sporting and social significance that can possibly be bottled into a 90-minute footballing fixture.
It will be the 104th clash between the giants since 1965, when the league was officially introduced.
Yanga have slight edge above Simba as they have won 36 times, while Simba have won 31 outings and 36 matches have ended in a draw.
Yanga have scored a total of 109 goals compared to Simba’s 99. Runaway league leaders Simba, welcome a Yanga side, sitting 21 points above their rivals, but with the Jangwani Street lads having played two games less.
Defending champions Simba maintained grip of the top position after collecting 68 points from 26 games, while Yanga sit…. position with 47 points from 24 outings.
Ahead of the game, Yanga and Simba coaches yesterday assured the public that their sides are ready to display quality football today.
Speaking yesterday at a tactical press conference held in the city, Yanga Head Coach Luc Eymael reiterated that he expected to see a very good brain football, bearing in mind that both teams have quality players.
“We have had a nice training session ahead of tomorrow's (today) game, which is very important for everybody in the country but we will try to do our job to emerge winners,” Eymael who singled out Meddie Kagere, Luis Miquissone and Francis Kahata as players to watch said.
He added that they are aware about how good their opponent (Simba) are but he pointed out that Mathematically, it is just like any other game.. “In my past interview, I said that the game will be similar to the recent El Clasico match between Barcelona and Real Madrid but generally, it will be a good game against a good opponent,” he said.
His Vice -Captain Juma Abdul said as players, they have grasped what their coach told them during the gearing up of the match such that they will leave the rest in the hands of God.
“On behalf of my colleagues, we are physically fit for the encounter and confident to win,” he said.
On his part, Simba Head Coach Sven Vandenbroack said it will be a match outside the league since the pressure is more outside to the fans than to players.
“In the past ten games played by both teams, the standard of play was good which simply means that even tomorrow (today), the match will be nice to watch,” he said.
He however said three points will be essential for them to cement their hopes to claim their third back to back top flight league title.
Again, Vandenbroack hopes that the weather will be conducive to allow smooth flow of the ball to suit how big the clash is.
His captain John Bocco disclosed that they know how tough the match is against a big team but said they are well prepared to do well.
“We will try as much as possible to respect the Fair Play rules of the game … our fans should come in their big number to give us the deserved support and we will do our best to win,” he said.
On their part, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) said all preparations ahead of today's match are completed, urging those who have already bought tickets to come early at the venue.
“Tickets will not be sold at the National Stadium but at the nearby places. Only vehicles with special authorisation documents will be allowed in," said TFF Media and Communication Officer Clifford Ndimbo.