SIMBA sailed through to Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC) semis after eliminating hosts Madini FC 1-0 in a fiercely fought match held here yesterday at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium.
The lone goal netted in the second half by Burundian international Laudit Mavugo steered the Dar es Salaam giant to the top four, thus intensifying the team’s campaign to win both the league and AZFC titles.
The well officiated encounter by Dodoma-based referee, Ahmad Kikumbo, saw Simba scoring the crucial goal in the 55th minute. Mavugo, who teamed up with Shiza Kichuya upfront, headed home a volley after Madini FC defender Hamisi Hamisi failed to clear it.
The little known Madini fought defiantly in the first 45 minutes as their no-nonsense defenders thwarted all dangerous moves directed to their goal.
The team continued to defend well while occasionally making counter attacks that could have hurt Simba, hadn’t been for their solid wall marshaled by Juuko Murshid, Abdi Banda, Jonas Mkude and Janvier Besala Bokungu.
Madini tried several times in the second half but none of the attacks paid off. Simba narrowly missed the second goal in the 69th minute when defender cleared on line Shiza Kichuya’s shot.
Simba join Mbao FC of Mwanza who defeated Kagera Sugar 2-1 at their Kaitaba Stadium in Bukoba. It is the first semi final stage for Simba who last year ended their run at the quarter final stage after they were eliminated by Tanga’s Coastal Union.
Other quarter final matches will involve Azam FC who will play Ndanda FC and holders Young Africans who will host Tanzania Prisons whose dates will be made public later.
It was historical match for Arusha residents as the city was brought into standstill and roads towards Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium were impassable.
The Colonel Middleton Road as well as Makongoro Street, both leading to the stadium had to be temporarily frozen, as vehicles could no longer pass due to the presence of forest of people and vehicles.
Business was also roaring, for some enterprising residents who were busy selling Simba SC and Yanga SC gear at the entrance, it was apparent that many Young Africans team supporters were cheering for Madini FC.
The venue was packed to the brim, with all the stadium seats tightly filled compelling hundreds of other spectators to sit on the ground in order to watch the match from inside.
After the match, the Madini Coach, Abdallah Juma said Simba scored their goal by sheer luck; “Besides it just goes to prove how tough our players are, some people had predicted that the Dar es salaam team will shower Madini with goals.” This is the first time for Simba SC to come to Arusha in four years.
The last time the team was here was back in 2013 when it played against the National Service (JKT) team of Oljoro in Mainland Premier League at Sheikh Amri Abeid and Simba beat Oljoro 1-0.
For their current exercising camp in Arusha, the Simba players pitched far away from the City Centre, at the TGT Sporting Area, in the lower section of Ngaramtoni, in Arumeru District.