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Simba coach: Players’ safety vital

Simba coach: Players’ safety vital

AFTER clinching the Mapinduzi Cup throne, Simba Head Coach Pablo Franco has urged organisers of the tournament to improve it by improving safety measures to protect players from risks they are exposed to.

Simba were crowned the new champions following their 1-0win over record winners Azam in the epic final at the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar on Thursday night.

Striker Meddie Kagere scored from a spot in the 56th minute capitalising on a reckless foul committed by Azam goalie Mathias Kigonya to speedy Pape Sakho inside the box.

This made the game to be halted for a while before the referee awarded the penalty to Simba as the tempo of the match reached an unbearable stage as each side was eager to make a breakthrough.

It took almost ten minutes before the referee pointed at the spot following altercations with players of the both sides as Azam charges were defending their keeper while Simba players were insisting it was a penalty. At last, a brief meeting between the referee and match officials was held before he finally blew his whistle to give Simba a spot kick which was expertly converted by Kagere.

His goal remained unanswered till the end of the 90minutes to give the Msimbazi Street Reds a deserved win plus a coveted trophy. Kigonya was therefore lucky to finish the game without marching orders based on the way he conducted the foul as he kicked Sakho in an aerial combat.

However, in his post-match briefing, Franco insisted on the organisers to improve the tournament saying players are not protected as they are exposed to many dangers.

“Our opponents’ players have been kicking hard on my players and the referees were not protecting them. I think if this does not change, then our approach to next year’s event will be totally different,” he warned.

He then lauded total commitment from his players throughout the competition saying each of them is really working hard to impress and that sometimes, he gets it hard to select who to be featured in a particular match.

His shot stopper Aishi Manula said winning the Mapinduzi Cup title is the beginning of claiming all other trophies which will come on their way this year.

“I am happy with the way we played the tournament and the rotation of players has been great.” The most important thing is that any player who was given an opportunity to play did his best by working hard for the club which is highly commendable,” said Manula who was one of the busiest players on the day.

On his part, Azam interim coach Abdihamid Moallin heaped praises on his troops saying they performed well in all their matches of the tournament and that the team has improved a lot as they all work hard. However, for Simba, aside from claiming the trophy, they managed to pocket all four major awards which were presented at the end of the competition which helped a lot to add value for the way they performed during the contest.

The Best Player Award went to Sakho, Best Player of the final went to their center-back Henock Inonga, and Manula clinched the Best Goalkeeper Award while striker Kagere won the top goal scorer award.

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Author: BENJAMIN BEN

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