SIMBA remain in control of the Mainland Premier League title race as they put up one of the finest performance, to earn a 3-0 win over Mtibwa Sugar at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Skipper John Bocco deservedly put Simba ahead in the first half and second half goals by Clatous Chama and Emmanuel Okwi sealed a comfortable victory for the Msimbazi Street lads.
Following the victory, Simba recaptured the top spot after posting 85 points from 34 outings. They knocked off traditional rivals Young Africans once again at the summit, as the Jangwani Street lads dropped second on 83 points from 36 outings. Simba now need five points in their remaining four matches to seal the tittle. Mtibwa Sugar remained fifth of the log on 52 points from 36 matches.
Despite the defeat, Zuberi Katwila’s charges have nothing to lose because they are clear of the relegation zone and are not in contention for the title. Simba came into the match, knowing that maximum points was important after being deprived five points out of possible six in their past two consecutive league ties.
A 1-0 defeat from Kagera Sugar at the Uhuru Stadium last week and a scoreless draw against Azam at the same venue on Monday added pressure to the defending champions. No wonder, coach Patrick Aussems deployed deadly striking trio of Okwi, Bocco and Meddie Kagere, who stretched Mtibwa Sugar defence to the limit from the onset.
It was a strong start for both teams and just a minute into the game, Rifat Khamis initial shot was blocked by Yusuf Mlipili and a follow up shot by Jaffary Kibaya narrowly missed the target as Simba survived an early scare. Simba recovered from that scare and were seeing more balls and they launched a deadly attack in the 9th minute.
A deep cross inside the box by Nicholas Gyan was well controlled by Okwi and the Ugandan hit man set up Chama, who rounded off goalkeeper, Shaaban Kado but referee Daniel Warioba blew the whistle adjudging that keeper was fouled. In the 11th minute, Kagere’s cross almost found Bocco, but the striker slipped as ‘big defender’ Cassian Ponella cleared the danger.
Simba were pressing hard, displaying neat football. And, in the 22nd minute Kagere’s shot was cleared off the line by Dickson Daudi. Simba maintained pressure but lacked composure in front of the goal and after half an hour mark, Kagere’s header off a deep cross in by Chama narrowly sailed wide.
However, Simba finally bagged the breakthrough in the 32nd minute, when Kagere fought for possession on the left side and despite Salum Kanoni getting on the way, the striker maneuvered and his nice cross found a stretching Bocco’s leg to power home, his 15th of the season.
Another brilliant display by Simba three minutes before the interval almost produced the second goal, when Kagere’s cross in was connected by Okwi, but narrowly missed the target. Mtibwa Sugar responded with a deadly set piece well taken by Kibaya, which narrowly sailed wide.
After the break, Simba came in front foot and in the 47th minute, Chama netted the second, latching onto a perfect pass from Nicholas Gyan, rounded off Daudi and beat on rushing keeper with a tricky low shot. It was the Zambian’s sixth goal of the campaign. In the 51st minute, Mtibwa Sugar’s Khamis missed from a sitter after having the better of Gyan.
The Morogoro lads were further pegged back, when Okwi netted the third for Simba in the 56th minute. Okwi grabbed his 15th goal of the campaign after he raced to a through pass from Jonas Mkude, only to beat keeper Kado, who came out of his line with a clever shot.
After an hour mark, Muzamiru Yassin replaced Bocco for Simba, while Mtibwa introduced Ismail Muhesa for Haruna Chanongo and Hassan Isihaka for Kibaya Then in the 72nd minute, Adam Salamba came in for Kagere as Simba slightly pulled the legs off the gas. In the 73rd minute, Muhesa missed a clear cut opportunity to reduce the margin after beating Mohamed Hussein but his diagonal shot sailed wide.
Then with nine minutes to go, Khamis produced a miss of the season after beating defenders and goalkeeper Manula and with yawning nets, he shot wide. Simba made their final substitution in the 82nd minute, when Hassan Dilunga replaced Niyonzima. With five minutes to go, Simba missed a chance to make it four, after Chama cut in a thick of defenders but his shot was blocked by keeper and Salamba’s follow shot was also cleared off line.
In another league match held at the Kaitaba Stadium in Bukoba, host Kagera Sugar went down 3-1 at the hands of Stand United. The victory lifted Stand United to 10th position with 44 points while Kagera Sugar are glued at the 15th position with 43 points.