OUR representatives in the continent’s Champions League, Simba Sports Club have conceded ten goals in their last two group stage matches against Democratic Republic of Congo’s AS Vita and over the weekend against Egypt’s soccer giants, Al Ahly and that has happened in less than one month.
While the two results speak volumes about the state of soccer which arguably leaves a lot to be desired, it is however, very unfortunate that Simba, and in particular, its technical bench does not seem to be learning from past matches.
Indeed, when you look critically at what happened in the first match against Vita in the DRC, you realise the team committed the same mistakes they had committed in the first match when they took on the Egyptians away from home in Alexandria.
For instance, one of the reasons why Simba went down heavily against the Congolese in Kinshasa is that they did not only open up very early in the match, apparently in search of goals, but they did not also close up their opponents whenever they had the ball.
Therefore, instead of keeping their back tight and policing their opponents closely as they studied them, they opened up too quickly and allowed the Congolese, who had been walloped by two goals to nil by Al Ahly barely two weeks back to compensate their telling defeat on them.
And disgustingly, Simba committed the same mistake when they played against Al Ahly and the Egyptians were quick in making full use of the opportunity that had been created by Simba for them.
Commonsense dictate that when playing away from home, one of the leading principles is to ensure that you don’t allow your opponents who are backed by the twelfth players-their soccer fans, to score not only once but more than that and hence kill the game.
Therefore, if a team that is playing away from home has commonsense, it would also ensure that it keeps their opponents so closely marked that by the time they get to the half-time, their hosts would not only have been denied of many goals; but their players would be so tired that by the time the second half resumed, the same tactic employed in the first half would come into play.
This explains why I had repeatedly, in my past columns, called on Simba’s technical bench to ensure that they prepare the team in the four magic S; strength, speed, suppleness and stamina if they wanted to stop Vita and Al Ahly from running over them.
Simply put, what sank Simba in both matches against Vita and Al Ahly, hence leading to the ten goals was their decision to open up very early in the game when their opponents were still very strong, and secondly, their massive failure to close up their opponents whenever they lost the ball.
To understand and appreciate my arguments one need to ask himself or herself one question; why did Simba not concede a goal in the second half against Al Ahly? The answer is simple, the players listened to their coach.
But more importantly, the Egyptians had run out of their energy which they had expended in the first half when they went in search of goals having been invited by Simba, through their senseless opening up.
Now the million dollar question is why did Simba players do what they did in the first half, open up and simultaneously fail to close up their opponents whenever they lost the ball? Is it also possible that Simba don’t understand instructions from their chief coach, Patrick Aussem?
The Vita’s chief coach had this to say after his team beat Simba by five goals to nil; “we knew, in terms of talent and skills, Simba players were better than us. We therefore worked very hard on our staying power and the result was the five goals we scored past them.”
Simba have no option, but to work extremely hard on their staying power. And, to attain that, they need to work extremely hard on the four magic S, strength, speed, suppleness and stamina. Simba have vowed to win all matches to be played at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
I have personally no problem with such a vow. But they need to bear in mind that they cannot win against the two teams both of which beat them by five goals to nil if they don’t urgently work on their staying power.
The beauty of working on their staying power now is that it would also help them against their last remaining match, away from home, against JS Saoura of Algeria.
If they can win all their remaining two matches at home and against the Algerians whom they beat by three goals to nil in Dar es Salaam over a month ago, they should be able to collect 12 points which could earn them the first or second spot, hence qualify for the quarterfinals.
But if they fail to qualify for another round this time round but go on to win their local league; it may not be a bad idea to think of bringing back local coaches, especially if they consider the following: When they reached the semifinal in 1974, Simba was being coached by Paul West Gwivaha who has since passed on.
And when they reached the CAF Cup final late in 1993 against Ivory Coast’s Stella Abidjan they were under the tutelage of another local coach, King Abdallah Kibadeni.