The two sides meet for the first time in the continental event and both will be keen on snatching a win with a view to staying in better position in their respective campaigns. Simba, led by their Serbian coach, Milovan Cirkovic, were in buoyant mood as they jetted off to Kigali on Thursday, with the coach promising better performance from his side in the crucial away duel.
The fact that SC Kiyovu will be playing at the familiar venue in front of cheering home fans will definitely force Simba to be at their best throughout should the latter harbour hopes of frustrating the former.
SC Kiyovu beefed up their squad by roping in a couple of players from Uganda in a bid to effectively put Simba at bay in the game and that happens to be another inspiration for the Rwandan outfit in its endeavour to excel in the match.
Simba will also be facing a rather more challenging task of emulating a memorable feat they achieved back in 1993, when they powered to the final of the continental event only to lose to Stella Abidjan of Cote d’ Ivoire. The Msimbazi Street side defied the odds and knocked out established sides in the likes of El Harrach of Algeria and AS Aviacao of Angola on its way to the final, and put itself in better position to lay hands on the silverware after forcing a barren draw with Stella Abidjan in the first leg.
With Simba fans and the rest of Tanzanian soccer lovers believing the team was almost about to win the coveted Confederation Cup trophy, Simba disappointingly lost 2-0 to the well drilled Stella Abidjan in the return leg played at the former National Stadium (now Uhuru Stadium) in front of a mammoth crowd.
While Simba are seeking to successfully hoist Tanzania’s flag high in Rwanda, the team’s rivals, Yanga, face an equally tricky task in continental assignment as they host Egyptian giants, Zamalek, in the first leg of the African Champions League’s preliminary round in Dar es Salaam today. Simba, as it is the case for rivals Yanga, have largely been using the Mainland Premier League to gauge their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the match against SC Kiyovu.
Simba will be facing SC Kiyovu on the back of largely impressive spell in the Mainland Premier League, in which the Msimbazi Street side leads the rest of the pack with 37 points from 17 matches, havingwon 11, managed draw in four and lost two.Despite being level with rivals, Yanga, on points, number of wins and losses from the same number of matches played, Simba enjoy the driver’s seat thanks to better goal difference they have over their rivals.
Simba will miss the services of, among others, key strikers, Gervais Kago of the Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Ulimboka Mwakingwe, who have been left out of the Kigali trip because they are nursing injuries. Cirkovic, however, will still have plenty to rely on in terms of striking options, in which the likes of Ugandan, Emmanuel Okwi, and Zambian, Felix Sunzu, are expected to lead the team’s attacks.
Okwi, in particular, could prove to be a constant threat to SC Kiyovu defence considering that the Ugandan striker is currently on top form, having scored crucial goals for his side to consequently stay in the chase for the Mainland Premier League’s golden boot award. Simba defence, which is marshalled by the no nonsense centre back, Juma Nyoso, will however need to put solid performance in a bid to thwart attempts by SC Kiyovu to score goals past keeper, Juma Kaseja, and stay in an advantageous position ahead of the return leg duel.