Simba grabbed the narrow win over the Tanga-based side in what turned out to be a balanced affair, which could have seen Coastal stun the Msimbazi Street side had the team exploited numerous chances it had particularly in the second half.
Cirkovic said his team was playing for crucial three points and he was, therefore, delighted to have won the points, which ensured his team tightens its grip on the top spot in the league standing. “We played for three points and I am satisfied by my team’s efforts,” he said.
“My team, however, did not play quite well probably because the players were not much confident,” added Cirkovic, who took over after Simba parted ways with Ugandan coach, Moses Basena shortly after the team lost 1-0 to rivals, Yanga, in the first round.
Cirkovic further said his team’s defence showed much improvement as compared to its performance in this year’s Mapinduzi Cup played in Zanzibar early this month, in which defending champions Simba lost 2-0 to Azam FC in the semi-finals and was consequently dethroned.
Coastal Union coach, Juma Mgunda, admitted his side missed plenty of chances particularly in the second half and promised to work on the weakness in a bid to turn around the team’s fortunes in the league. “My team’s performance took into consideration the kind of opponents it was playing against…my players were not showboating as the majority of the fans had imagined,” said Mgunda, the former Coastal Union striker.
He promised significant improvement in performance in Coastal Union in forthcoming matches considering the team was determined to battle for its top flight status. Simba were generally in control of the Wednesday match in the first half, in which they missed a couple of good chances before taking a 1-0 lead thanks to a well taken goal by midfielder, Haruna Moshi, from outside Coastal Union penalty area just three minutes from half time.
And, the Msimbazi Street side was made to pay for its complacency later in the second half as Coastal Union put stellar performance to pin the former down for the better part, missing a number of close chances in the process. Coastal Union, which attacked from the right flank on most occasions in the first half to keep Simba’s left back, Juma Jabu busy for a while, shifted its attacking option to the left during the second half, in which Coastal Union’s left back, Burundian Ramadhan Wasso, combined well with left winger, Salum Aziz Gilla, to torment Simba defence.
Wasso and Gilla, who played for Simba on different occasions in the past, made life difficult for Simba right fullback, Nassor Masoud ‘ Chollo’ to prompt the latter and his fellow defenders, Kelvin Yondani and Juma Nyoso, to go for resolute defending to keep the Coastal players at bay. Coastal Union was almost rewarded for its second half onslaught, when a goalmouth melee at the Simba goal ended with Chollo heading the ball away from inside the goal line to deny Coastal Union an outright equalizer.
With Coastal Union players and a handful of fans believing it was the equalizer, the match’s referee, Martin Saanya, saw the whole thing differently as he awarded Simba a free kick for what appeared to be a foul by a Coastal player on one of Simba defenders. And, after Simba capitalized on Coastal Union’s slack defending to add the second goal midway through the second half, it was Coastal that again held sway and rightly got a consolation from a spot kick, which was expertly taken by midfielder, Hamisi Shengo.
Coastal Union could have drawn level deep into the second half from yet another spot kick, had referee Saanya ruled in the team’s favour when Gilla was fouled inside Simba’s penalty box after getting the better of Chollo down the left flank. Saanya, though, quashed the penalty appeal to see Simba cling on to their one-goal