AFTER a thrilling 1-0 triumph against mighty Al-Ahly in the group stage of CAF Champions League, Tanzanian giants Simba turn their focus to their Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC) title defence campaign today with a tricky fixture with African Lyon.
Simba return to their favourite Benjamin Mkapa where they slaughtered the record African champions Al Ahly, taking on the first division side looking to maintain domestic successes, yet again eyeing a double in the current campaign.
The two teams meet in the fourth round of the competition, eager to snatch vital win to have access of moving into the second round. Neither of the Dar es Salaam-based sides will take the encounter for granted, making it a potential thriller for football lovers.
Defending champions, Simba will certainly go out and try to cement their dominancy as they seek to repeat last year’s feat when they beat Namungo 2-1 in the final match at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Rukwa region.
Speaking yesterday ahead of the clash in the city, Simba Head of Information and Communication, Haji Manara said Simba Coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa and his charges are aware of the importance of the game and would take it seriously.
“We are the defending champions and would like to win it again this season as such, we have urged the squad not to underestimate African Lyon as they too want to go further in the competition,” Manara said.
“As a club, we have already set our targets for this season of which we want to defend both the ASFC and the top flight league. We can ill-afford not to progress into the quarterfinals of the Champions League but there is no way we can give away the league title this season,” Manara stated.
He however expressed his worry that in most cases, whenever Simba do well in a big match, their next game tends to be difficult for the Msimbazi Street Reds, hence, he implored his team not to undervalue their today’s opponents.
African Lyon have been struggling to get their First Division League (FDL) on track.
Their performances have not been that convincing as they occupy seventh slot with 10 points from ten outings, trailing current leaders Mbeya Kwanza by 13 points.
From the 10 clashes they have played so far, Lyon have just won two games something which is not a desirable trend for a team looking for promotion into the top flight league at the end of the season.
However, this is not a guarantee that Simba will have a smooth ride over the African Lyon. The former Premier League outfit could still stun the defending champions, who have in the past suffered against unfancied lower division sides.
Speaking ahead of the game, Lyon’s owner Rahimu Zamunda warned Simba that his charges are plotting a major upset against the reigning champions.
He touted his side’s culture of stunning the country’s bigwigs whenever they meet.
Elsewhere today, Mtibwa Sugar will be at home welcoming JKT Tanzania while in an early kickoff, Arusha FC host Mashujaa FC at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha.