TANZANIA: SIMBA coach Abdelhak Benchikha said his side needs strong and sharp strikers to do well in the CAF Champions League (CAF CL) and other competitions they are exposed to in this season.
He made the remarks after succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Mlandege in the 2024 Mapinduzi Cup finals at the New Amaan Sports Complex in Zanzibar over the weekend.
Joseph Akandwanao scored the winning goal in the 54th minute after meandering through a group of Simba players before releasing a low-flying volley that easily went past Moroccan goalie Ayoub Lakred.
Following the nosedive, the Reds finished as runners-up and cashed 70m/- while Mlandege who defended the title twice in a row bagged a 100m/- cash prize.
Benchikha further said, “In the first half, we played very well but after conceding the goal in the second half, automatically the team sat behind, and thereafter, it was difficult for us. We do not have strong forwards, Simba needs strong forwards for the Champions League, Benchikha who missed the opportunity to win his first silverware at the helm of Simba said.”
On his part, Mlandege trainer Jalaa Salum hailed his charges for retaining the title saying it was the wish of many people in Zanzibar to keep hold of it.
“We have done our job well of making sure that this trophy remains here for the second time in a row…it was not easy playing against Simba in the finals.
But our strong determination led us to win the encounter; we are now going to cement our team so that next year, we should also defend it for the third time back-to-back,” Salum said.
His match winner Akandwanao remarked that scoring goals is easy for him because he practices that skill in training sessions.
“Of course, it was a tough match because Simba is a big team in East Africa, and scoring that goal was easy for me though people outside may think it was difficult,” he said.
He also revealed that Benchikha’s men simply lacked concentration resulting in conceding the goal while insisting that Simba have strong defenders who are not easy to beat.