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Pablo wary of Azam threat

Pablo wary of Azam threat

SIMBA Head Coach Pablo Franco expects a tough encounter against Azam FC today, acknowledging the team as one of the best in the country. The two giants face off at Azam Complex Stadium in Chamazi, Dar es Salaam with both in dire need of maximum points.

While Simba are still in with a glimmer of hope in the title race, Azam must win today to bolster their chances of finishing in one of the top four places in order to secure continental football next season.

In the first-round match at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Simba triumphed 2-1 courtesy of second half goals from Sadio Kanoute and Pape Sakho, while Azam's striker Rodgers Kola netted the consolation goal.

Ahead of what promises to be a thriller, Simba’s Spanish tactician Franco predicted a rough ride for his side, saying they will be against one of the best teams in the country, which boast a balanced squad of domestic and foreign-based players.

"They play good football and have a skilled coach doing a good job at the team. For us to win, we need to be at our best level, and hopefully, in the end, we will gather maximum points," said Franco.

A win for Simba at the Chamazi Complex, will see the defending champions cut the gap with highflying Young Africans to 8 points. Any slip-up will effectively end the Reds’ chase for the fifth consecutive league trophy.

Franco maintained that his side will continue to push to get positive results in all their remaining matches without giving up until the season is over. Simba have recently struggled with injuries and absentees, but the Spanish trainer said he will have enough firepower for the mouthwatering fixture, insisting most of his charges are of good health.

On his part, Azam goalkeeping coach Idd Mwinchumu said they have trained intensively for the match and are looking forward to stamping a victory though it will be a tough game.

"This season, the league is difficult, that is why each team is fighting hard to grab a win and the same thing applies to us. We lost the first-round match against them, but this time, we are hopeful to get three points," he said.

Mwinchumu called on many Azam supporters to turn up in big numbers as they play at their home ground, to give them massive support, insisting basing on the ample preparations they have had, fans will witness thrilling football.

He confirmed that Paul Peter and Idd Nado are the only players who will miss the game as the former is undergoing treatment in South Africa while the latter is yet to regain match fitness as he has just recovered from an injury that kept him out for a long period.

Azam defender Lusajo Mwaikenda said they are determined to get back to winning ways against Simba after losing their previous match at Mbeya City. He said they will approach today’s game with their heads up. "We respect Simba.

They are a complete team with experienced players and a good technical bench but that does not scare us because we are ready to stage a good match and, in the end, emerge victorious," he stated.

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Author: Benjamin Ben

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