Simba keep title race hopes alive
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STAND United goalkeeper, Frank Mwonge catches a ball from Simba striker, Laudit Mavugo, during their Mainland Premier League encounter at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, yesterday. Simba won 2-1. (Photo by Mohamed Mambo)

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JUMA Luizio brace has continued to shape up Simba’s push for the Mainland Premier League title, after a 2-1 victory over Stand United at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday. The victory for Simba yesterday, indicates that there’s every chance the title race is going down to the final day next weekend.

The victory came at a day when Simba signed a lucrative 4.9bn/- five- year sponsorship deal with a betting firm, SportPesa. Simba have supplanted their rivals and defending champions Young Africans at the summit, now on 65 points, three above their rival.

Although Yanga have two games in hand, Joseph Omog’s side have points on the board. Had Simba failed to take all three points or even held out for a draw yesterday, then Omog’s side would have been out of the race to finish top of the pile for the fourth season running, leaving Yanga as an overwhelming favourites to retain the trophy.

Simba last won the league title in 2012. Yanga know they cannot afford to slip up while coming down the stretch today to face relegation threatened Mbeya City at the Uhuru Stadium.

In the game yesterday, Stand United took an early lead after just 25th seconds, probably the fastest goal of the season so far through midfielder Selemani Selembe. The midfielder capitalised on a combination of defensive and goalkeeping error to a brilliant goal, chipping past on rushing keeper Daniel Agyei.

Central defender, Juuko Murshid allowed a long ball to bounce metres away and Selembe raced clear past the Ugandan defender, coming face to face with the Ghanaian keeper, who was in the middle of nowhere and the midfielder calmed his nerves, controlled the ball on his chest and blasted home with aplomb.

Stand United started strongly and the visitors were on front foot in the first 20 opening minutes, surprising Simba, who uncharacteristically started the game at a low tempo. However, midfielder Muzamiru Yassin almost pulled level in the 18th minute but his shot veered off the target and a minute later Shiza Kichuya tested goalkeeper, Frank Muwonge but the Ugandan shot stopper was well alerted to collect the ball.

Simba stepped up the tempo and in the 24th minute Luizio, featuring for Simba on loan from Zambian side Zesco United, managed to pull level with a cleaver header finishing off from Kichuya’s cross from the right.

The scorer headed into the far post, beating keeper Muwonge. The Msimbazi Reds continued to pile pressure on the visitors. Muzamiru took a sharp turn but his snap shot could not hit the target in the 25th minute. Two minutes later, Burundian striker Laudit Mavugo fired a blistering shot which narrowly sailed wide.

Another chance came in the 34th minute when left wing back Mohamed Hussein’s volley was bravely collected by the keeper. Stand united could not resist no more two minutes later, when Simba netted the second thanks to Luizio’s intervention.

The striker latched onto Muzamiru’s low pass to beat the keeper from a close range. It was Luizio’s third of the campaign. However, the goal was contested by United’s players, who confronted the match referee claiming that Luizio scored the goal on offside position.

The confrontation on referee resulted to Frank Hamis to be awarded a yellow card for the misconduct and in the 40th minute Hamis nearly levelled the matter for his side before going into break, but his header went off target few inches from the goal. T

hen Mavugo blasted a chance to stretch the lead in the 42nd minute and the Burundian was at it against a minute before the interval, as he nearly rounded off the keeper.

However, Muwonge was sharp to block the ball. After the break, Stand United started strongly and Selembe was outstanding in the middle of the midfield with sublime touches. Simba Cameroonian tactician Omog introduced in experienced midfielder, Mwinyi Kazimoto for Mohamed Ibrahim.

In the 61st minute Stand United missed another clear chance to equalise but Murshid cleared the ball from line with goalkeeper Daniel Agyei well beaten.

United called in Sixtus Sabilo and Omary Kanyori for Heri Halfan and Selembe respectively whereas Simba brought in Pastory Athans and Abdi Banda for Luizio and Kichuya respectively.

With time running out, both teams showed fighting spirit with Simba looking for a third goal while United seeking for an equaliser.

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