SIMBA came out unscathed to win 2-1 over KMC in the Mainland Premier League clash at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza yesterday. The Kinondoni lads put up a brave battle despite defeat. Striker Emmanuel Okwi netted the opener in the first half but Hassan Kabunda pulled level for KMC midway in the second half but skipper John Bocco scored a late penalty to give Simba maximum points.
Following the victory, Simba have now collected 66 points from 26 matches, moving above Azam FC to second and nine points adrift league leaders Young Africans. However, Yanga and Azam have played 32 matches. Simba went above Azam to second on goal difference because they tie on 66 points but the Msimbazi Reds boast superior goal difference advantage.
Coach Patrick Aussems deployed a strong side, with deadly striking trio of Emmanuel Okwi, Meddie Kagere and skipper John Bocco all in the starting list. No wonder, Simba started strongly in search for an early opener.
In the 11th minute, Kagere flick header nearly beat goalkeeper, Jonathan Nahimana at the near post but the agile goalie was well positioned to collect the ball. Simba continued to commit numbers in front but failed to make the most from chances they created. Okwi put Simba ahead in the 22nd minute. The Ugandan raced to James Kotei’s long ball from a set piece to score with his first time shot. It was his tenth goal of the campaign.
Simba missed the chance to extend the lead three minutes before the break, when Bocco’s shot came off the top post. A quick move by midfielder, Clatous Chama found Kagere on space down the right side and the striker teed up a cross to Bocco, whose first time shot was clutched by the keeper and came off the top bar.
In the 46th minute, Bocco was at it again, racing to long ball in by Okwi and the lanky striker managed to beat on rushing keeper but a stretching leg of defender, Ismail Gambo blocked Bocco’s shot to a fruitless corner kick. After the break, KMC had to make change, when Aron Lulambo was forced to limp out after sustaining injury and was replaced by Kelvin Kajiri.
Simba were punished for their ineptness, when Kabunda pulled level in the 56th minute, latching onto a perfect pass from John Sangija and the scorer outpaced Zana Coulibaly to easily beat goalkeeper, Aishi Manula. Etienne Ndairagije’s charges looked livelier after they introduced James Msuva for George Sangija and Simba introduced Muzamir Yassin for Kotei. After an hour mark, Simba won a spot kick after Okwi’s shot came off a defender’s hand and Kagere stepped up but his shot was easily collected by keeper Nahimana.
Immediately thereafter, Okwi’s shot was parried off by keeper, before Chama fired wide. In the 71st minute Omary Ramadhani twisted and turned around Simba defender, Yusuf Mlipili but his shot sailed wide.
Then, Simba wasted another opportunity, when Bocco came one on one with keeper but delayed to take the shot. With Simba losing the midfield battle, the technical bench called in Hassan Dilunga for Okwi in the 75th minute and Simba won the second penalty of the day in the 81st minute, when referee adjudged that a ball came off Ally Ramadhani’s hand as he was attempting to block Muzamiru Yassin, who was charging into the box.
Bocco stepped up and sent the keeper a wrong way. In the 85th minute James Msuva’s header nearly beat Manula and with a minute to go, Mohamed Ibrahim replaced Chama. Next up for Simba will be a clash against Biashara United in Musoma at the Karume Stadium tomorrow.