BENJAMIN Mkapa Stadium once again grabs the attention of Tanzanians and East Africa football fans when Simba and Young Africans lock horns at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.
The eagerly awaited derby to kick off at 17:00, pits red-hot Simba against their traditional rivals Yanga to decide who is superior after sharing the spoils in the first round of the Premier League at the same venue.
In the first round’s derby, Yanga took the match lead through a spot kick before Simba levelled the matter through Joash Onyango who headed home the equaliser in the 89th minute.
Coming into this particular fixture amid a good run of form, Simba are settled at the top of the Premier League standings, having won all their last five games.
Simba, who have been doing extremely well in their both local and international assignments, are likely to hit the ground running as they need much the victory since the loss might ruin their reputation as the country and East Africa’s most successful club at the moment.
“Our preparations have been good and we are ready for the derby whose winner is usually unpredictable. We need to win the game so as to enhance our race for the league’s championship once again,” said, Simba’s Assistant coach, Selemani Matola.
Apart from that, Matola has urged the club’s supporters to fill the stadium and support the team’s winning mission.
Simba are going into today’s derby with two games in hand, hence a win against their traditional rivals will stretch their points gap as their closest pursuers; Yanga and Azam FC are not far behind.
For Simba, players like Clatous Chama, flying winger Luis Miquissone, defender Joash Onyango and goalie Aishi Manula have heralded the derby talks, while Yanga fans trumpet Yacouba Sogne, Tuisila Kisinda, Feisal Salum and Lamine Moro as the players who will play a crucial role in their team’s victory over their rivals.
On the other hand, Yanga who are placed second in the league log, are four points inferior to their rivals Simba, but they hope, under their recently appointed Tunisian tactician, Nasreddine Nabi to beat Simba and revive their title race campaign.
Yanga’s coach Nabi said is aware that the derby is always tough, “but my players are well-drilled to face any challenge against Simba.”
Though the coach declined to mention players on the injury list, reports unveil that the Jangwani Street-based club will miss the services of their Angolan winger Carlos Carlinhos and defender Yassin Mustapha who are still nursing injuries.
The Premier League’s defending champions, Simba are ahead of the rest with 61 points garnered from 25-game outings while Yanga are parading 57 points after playing 27 matches as the third-placed Azam have notched 54 points after playing 28 games.
Today’s derby will be the first for both Simba’s French tactician Didier Gomez and Yanga’s Tunisian tactician Nabi. In their first round derby, Simba was under the Belgian tactician Sven Van de Broeck while Yanga were under the tutelage of Burundian Cedric Kaze.