DEFENDING champions Simba will be looking to step closer towards retaining their crown when they clash against JKT Oljoro in the quarterfinals of the Under-20 Premier League at the Karume Memorial Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday afternoon.
The youth championship dubbed 'Uhai Cup', which involves second strings of top flight clubs, rolls into the last eight this morning, with the holders looking favourites to reach the semis at the expense of the Arusha based army wardens. The match is set to kick off at 3:00pm.
Selemani Matola's youngsters will once again rely on the team's slippery attacker Ramadhani Singano alias 'Messi', who has been terrorizing defences of opposing sides. The former midfield maestro has, in fact, succeeded to build a strong youth team, which boasts gifted players including Ramadhan Mdoe, Mohamed Salum, Frank Sekule, Abdallah Seseme and Edward Christopher.
Some already have a lot of experience having featured for the senior team as well as national teams. But one can only underrate a team at this stage at own peril and any complacency by the Simba youngsters could be punished by the boys from the northern city of Arusha.
JKT Oljoro will go into the game all guns blazing seeking to see off the holders and book a place into the semi-finals. The Simba-Oljoro showdown would be preceded by another mouth-watering encounter between Mtibwa Sugar and African Lyon scheduled to kick off from 8.00 a.m at the same venue.
Elsewhere, two-time champions Azam face a daunting task against JKT Ruvu at the former's Chamazi Complex on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. Azam, a club with well established youth soccer structure, won the inaugural Uhai Cup in 2008 and defended their title the following year.
They have spoken of their intent to bring the crown back at Chamazi but they must first overcome JKT Ruvu to keep that dream alive. The 2010 winners Ruvu Shooting from Coast region are still on course for the youth silverware.
They are up against in-form Coastal Union from Tanga in the last quarterfinal match to be staged at the Chamazi Stadium, kicking off at 4:00 p.m. The Uhai Cup, which is sponsored by Said Salim Bakhressa under Uhai drinking water, was established in 2008 and aimed at grooming young players.