Simba Sports Club will today look to keep their perfect start to the season, when they take on Azam FC in the Mainland Premier League at Azam Complex, Chamazi, in Dar es Salaam.
The eagerly awaited match to be officiated by referee Ludovick Charles will kickoff at 4:00 pm as opposed to initial kick off time of 7:00 pm due to what was described as security reasons.
Addressing members of media yesterday, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Media and Communications Officer, Alfred Lucas, said the decision to reschedule the kick off time was made by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Paul Makonda, who also serves as Chairman of Security and Defence Committee.
“He (Makonda) advised TFF to reschedule the kick off time for security reasons. We have no option other than adhering to his directive. Some people proposed to relocate the match to Uhuru Stadium, but because the final decision to render Azam their right of hosting big matches was reached, only starting time is altered,” Lucas said.
Azam Complex for the first time will be handling the country’s football giants Simba and Young Africans matches since its construction, following TFF decision to flash green-light to the venue.
Simba under the tutelage of their Cameroonian tactician Joseph Omog, comes into the game having recorded a massive 7-0 win over Ruvu Shooting in their league opener two weeks ago at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Simba fans are eager to see their team maintain that feat. Omog charges will be out to prove that the victory against the military side posted in the opening game was no fluke. Omog said his charges are ready to play any time anywhere.
However, Omog, who will be returning to the Azam Complex for the first time since he parted ways with the ice-cream maker club two years ago, after serving the team for 14 months, will certainly face tough test and will receive a mixed welcome from Azam supporters.
The Cameroon tactician expressed confidence that Simba will start from where they left off against Ruvu Shooting. Going into the match, Simba received a major boost with the return of their striker and former Azam skipper John Bocco and midfielder maestro Haruna Niyonzima, who are back in training after being sidelined due to injuries.
Bocco and first choice goalkeeper, Aishi Manula will also be making their return to Chamazi for the first time since leaving the club and joined Simba. Another boos is a timely return of their potent weapon, Ugandan striker Emmanuel Okwi and key defender, Jjuuko Murshid.
The duo travelled to Alexandria, Egypt, with Uganda national team, The Cranes, to face Pharaohs in a return fixture of the Group E World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday, in which Uganda lost 1-0.
Okwi, specifically is on fire, scoring four times against Ruvu Shooting and went ahead to score a winning goal for Uganda Cranes in their first leg World Cup qualifiers clash against Egypt in Kampala, Uganda, last week.
The Ugandan said he will continue to hit the back of the net, but certainly it will not be an easy task for Simba against the ice-cream makers club, who has always been a difficult opposition to face.
Azam are not only a tough opponent but they are also genuine title contenders. For some reasons, analysts say, it will be an advantage to Azam because they will welcome Simba for the first time at their Azam Chamazi Complex on the outskirt of Dar es Salaam and the visitors could somewhat feel disoriented.
Azam FC Manager Philip Alando said they are well prepared to host Simba and their ex-stars including Bocco and Manula. Assistant Coach Iddi Cheche said that they are looking forward for positive result in today’s game and maintain their perfect start to the season.
Azam beat host Ndanda FC 1-0 at the Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium in Mtwara in the opening fixture of the season two weeks ago. The day will also witness Tanzania Prisons hosting Songea’s Majimaji FC at Sokoine Memorial Stadium in Mbeya.
Prisons who won their first game will be looking to inflict another defeat on Majimaji, who lost 1-0 in their opener against Mbeya City in Mbeya two weeks ago.
The league will continue tomorrow in six different venues with Njombe Mji hosting Yanga at Sabasaba grounds in Makambako, Mtibwa Sugar against Mwadui FC at the Manungu grounds, Turiani, Morogoro, while Lipuli will be at home against Stand United at Samora Stadium.