ALL eyes will be in Cairo Stadium as Simba and Al Ahly clash in a decisive return leg of the African Football League this evening, with the Tanzania envoys looking to overcome the odds and book a place into the semifinals of the newly-launched tournament.
After a thrilling 2-2 draw in the first leg at Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Friday, Simba visit Al Ahly for a do or die second leg, each team hoping to get a crucial win and book a last four spot.
It will be a tall order for Roberto Oliveira’s side to see off the reigning African champions in their own backyard, but they have done it before when they eliminated the then CAF Champions League holders, Zamalek in 2003 to book a place in the group stage.
Simba’s Brazilian tactician Roberto Oliveira has acknowledged that they face a massive task ahead of them, but remains optimistic and confident they can get over the line.
“Always, my objective as a coach is to play well and win. I don’t play to defend; I am a positive man and I will do everything to win. We need to show our capacity and I am positive we can go away and put in a good performance to win,” noted the Brazilian tactician ahead of the second leg.
Simba showed an improved performance in the second half against Ahly in Dar, and Oliveira attributed this to a change in team shape and players and will be expected to get his choices and tactics right to have any chances of outsmarting the hosts.
“We noticed that we were losing both the first and the second ball and that is why we brought Kanoute (Sadio) in so that he can play with Fabrice (Ngoma) in midfield. We improved a lot in this and controlled the game,” said the coach.
“We played against a very strong team with a lot of experience in African football. It was a game of two halves; first half for Ahly, second half for Simba. There are a lot of positives we can pick heading into the return tie,” he added.
Simba Information and Communication Officer Ahmed Ally was quoted by the club’s official website yesterday saying that the team’s preparation was going on smoothly and the players were ready for the duel.
He said the game has been scheduled for 5pm.
For his side, Al Ahly head coach Marcel Koller has admitted the match will be difficult, but reiterates they will map out a game plan that sails them into the last four.
“We play at home and we will give our best to ensure we win. It will not be easy, but we will work hard to earn what is deserved for us,” the Swiss tactician said after the first game.
Looking back at his side’s performance, he was delighted with how they managed and controlled the game and the mature performance exhibited by his side.
“We played very well especially in the first half and even before we scored, we had three clear chances that we should have converted. In the second half Simba came back stronger but we showed good character to score immediately after conceding,” noted Koller.
Match Stages AFL
All the rounds of the competition are played under knockout system on a home and away basis over two legs.
For the quarter-finals and the semi-finals the team that scores the greater aggregate of goals in the two matches qualifies for the next stage of the competition.
For the final, the team that scores the greater aggregate of goals in the two matches is declared the winner of the 2023 African Football League.
Away goal Rule applies in all rounds.
Extra Time and Penalties
If the two teams involved in a tie score the same number of goals over the two legs, the teams proceed to a penalty shootout. No extra time in the Quarter-finals and Semi-finals.
If the two teams are involved in a tie after 90 minutes in the finals, extra time of 15 minutes each half will be played.
If the tie persists at the end of the extra time, the teams will proceed to penalty shootout.