After their nearest and dearest rivals Young Africans slipped-up with a 2-2 draw against Moro United last Saturday, Simba will expectedly come out all guns blazing looking for maximum points against the relegation-haunted Coastal Union and take control in the title race.
Saturday’s stalemate moved Yanga level on 28 points with table toppers Simba, who have played one game less but still occupy the driver’s seat thanks to superior goal-difference and definitely Milovan Cirkovic’s men would cherish their chance to go three points clear on the 14-team standing.
Simba scrapped to a 1-0 win when the two teams clashed in the first round match, with Rwandan midfielder Patrick Mafisango scoring the solitary goal at the Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga on August 24, last year and once again will be favourites to make it double against the struggling Union side.
There are a few injuries, however, for Milovan Cirkovic to contend with, as Zambian striker Felix Sunzu and attacking midfielder Ulimboka Mwakingwe are still nursing injuries. But playmaker Haruna Moshi should be fit to face Coastal Union and could line up front alongside Gervais Kago, Uhuru Selemani and Machaku Salum.
Milovan will demand his players to raise their game against Jamhuri Kihwelo’s side and avoid any upset that could dent their hopes of building a buffer zone with the rest of the chasing pack. The Serb admitted recently that he faces an arduous task of improving his team after seeing it held to an inspiring 1-1 draw by Tusker FC of Kenya in an international friendly match played at the National Stadium.
Coastal Union’s position on the table means that they will give Simba a good fight. The Tanga-based side sit third bottom with 11 points after playing 13 games and will be looking to pull themselves out of the relegation zone. Elsewhere, fourth-placed and title hopefuls Azam FC, smarting from Mapinduzi Cup triumph, welcome African Lyon at their Chamazi Complex located on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.
Azam FC have demonstrated that they are ready to go toe to toe with giants Yanga and Simba in pursuit of the top flight silverware and will be hoping to keep pressure on the two serial winners with a victory against Lyon.
Azam’s ambitious spending was recently rewarded when Stewart Hall led the team to their first-ever title after winning the Mapinduzi Cup with an emphatic 3-1 win over Jamhuri of Pemba in an exciting final of the championship designated in commemoration of the 1964’s Zanzibar Revolution. They had torn apart Yanga and Simba en-route to the final.
Azam FC head coach Stewart Hall believes that the latest success will serve a motivation for his side to knock off the line the two giants and win the Mainland Premier League. "Our target is to continue winning big, and we'll continue taking each game seriously," vowed Hall in the aftermath of his side’s Mapinduzi Cup triumph. Azam dropped to fourth place following JKT Oljoro’s 1-0 win over Mtibwa Sugar last Saturday.
The result moved Oljoro, in their debut season, third on the league table after reaching 26 points. Azam have so far collected 23 points from 13 games and could get back into third place with a win over Lyon. Meanwhile, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) yesterday announced entrance fees for today’s Premier League matches, pitting Simba vs.
Coastal Union and Azam FC vs. African Lyon. Those who will go to watch Simba against Coastal Union at the National Stadium will have pay 3,000 each for a blue and green seat ticket, while tickets for Orange seats will be sold at 5000/- each, VIP B and C 10,000/- each and VIP A 15,000/- each. At Chamazi Stadium, fans will pay 10,000/- for a Main Stand ticket and those who will opt to sit at the popular stand will have part with 3,000/-.