MAINLAND Premier League trio of Simba stepped up their preparations for the forthcoming domestic season with a 2-1 win over Kenyan outfit Mathare United in a lively pre-season friendly at Sheikh Amri Abeid Memorial Stadium in Arusha on Sunday.
Second-half goals from newly-imported Ghanaian striker Daniel Akuffo and attacking midfielder Kigi Makasi proved enough to see off the challenge of the visiting Mathare United.Simba were also using the international friendly to gauge their squad ahead of the Community Shield match against last season's runners-up Azam set for September 8.
Simba head coach Milovan Cirkovic was expected to use the encounter to test his newly recruited players including Kenyan defender Paschal Ochieng and the Ghanaian Akuffo.
And the Serbian tactician Cirkovic named the two players in his starting line-up which also included Malian centre back Komabil Keita, who is undergoing trials with the Premier League champions.
Keita partnered Ochieng at the heart of Simba's defence as second-choice goalkeeper Wilbert Mwita was handed a rare start ahead of Juma Kaseja. Said Nassor 'Chollo' and Amir Maftah completed the back four.
Salum Kinje, Mwinyi Kazimoto and Haruna Moshi operated in the midfield while Felix Sunzu, Abdallah Juma and Akoufo formed the striking force.
Simba started the game promisingly and created the first opening after five minutes with Abdallah Juma releasing Sunzu inside the box, but the Zambia delayed to unleash his effort and allowed Mathare defenders to clear the danger.
Juma then wasted a great opportunity to put his side ahead when he fired over while eye on eye with Mathare goalkeeper, Martin Musalia.Mathare carved out two meaningful chances on the 18th and 25th minutes but the team's strikers Francis Ouma and Kelvin Omond respectively wasted both of them.
Keita's first outing with his suitors ended prematurely and in agony as he picked up injury just after the half hour mark and was replaced by Juma Nyoso. The two teams headed for breather tied to a goalless draw.
Akuffor put Simba ahead in the 58th minute with a powerful header from overlapping left full-back Amir Maftah's cross. Simba's celebration short lived as Mathare drew level thanks to Nyoso's own goal in the 63rd minute.
Substitute Kigi Makasi, however, restored his side's lead moments later from the spot kick after another substitute Uhuru Selemani had been brought down inside the penalty area.The Msimbazi Street-based giants have opted to stage their training camp in the northern region of Arusha in preparation for their title defence campaign.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Simba players and officials yesterday visited the Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) Arusha-based brewery plant with a view to witness the production process.Simba's Technical Committee chairman, Ibrahim Masoud said the club decided to make the factory tour to see it for themselves various activities conducted at the factory, particularly the brewing and bottling process.
TBL, through its Kilimanjaro Beer Brand, is the main sponsor of the Mainland champions, Simba and archrivals Yanga, who are CECAFA Kagame Cup champions.Masoud lauded Kilimanjaro Premium Lager's cooperation with their club and was grateful with the warm reception they were offered during the tour, which took them round various departments of the factory.
On his behalf, Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Brand Manager, George Kavishe said it was exciting that Simba visited the factory and learnt the various activities taking place at the plant.Kavishe said TBL recognized and appreciated Simba and Yanga's contribution towards Tanzanian football, noting that TBL's sponsorship of the two clubs was down to their unparallelled success and attraction.
He hailed Simba and Yanga's achievement on and off the pitch and expressed his firm's commitment to continue supporting the two giants, which apart from being the oldest, command huge fan base domestically and around the East African region.
Last year, the Beer brewing company, through its Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Brand entered into a new deal worth 5bn/- with the two Dar es Salaam-based outfits, a 60 per cent increase of the initial three-year 3bn/- contract.