REIGNING champions Simba survived a late scare to beat African Lyon 3-1 in one of the opening second round matches of the Mainland Premier League at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
It was a perfect start for new coach Frenchman--Patrick Liewig, whose side is seeking to refresh their title retention campaign. Mercurial winger Mrisho Ngassa scored a brace and missed a spot kick while midfielder Ramadhan Chombo 'Redondo' was also on the score sheet for Simba.
African Lyon's lone goal was netted by substitute Bright Ike. The game started at a cracking pace and it took Simba hardly two minutes to register the opening goal courtesy of stylish midfielder, Ramadhan Chombo, who finished home a cross from Ngassa, from the right.
Lyon managed to push upfront after conceding the goal but could hardly make the most of the few chances it had. In one of Lyon's best chance, striker Amani Kyata failed to score from a well measured cross by overlapping Fred Lewis from the right. Despite Lyon having tried hard to press for an equalizer whenever they were in possession, lack of better coordination especially in the final third was a let down for the Mbagala based outfit.
Simba then took the game to their opponents and went close in a couple of occasions. They were 2-0 up when Ngassa banged in after outpacing defenders in the 18th minute. The diminutive winger exchanged quick passes with attacking midfielder, Mwinyi Kazimoto, and the he drilled in a low shot past goalkeeper Abdul Seif.
It was a sparkling finish for Ngassa, who fully deserved to score making series of fruitless attempts. Sturdy midfielder, Amri Kiemba opt to have put the game to the bed midway when he made his way into the box and side stepped past the keeper but failed to make the most out of the chance.
Lyon wasted a penalty after half an hour mark when, winger Shamte Ally on loan from Yanga blasted wide from a re-take. Keeper, Juma Kaseja saved initial shot but referee, Israel Mujuni Nkongo ordered for a re-take after adjudging Kaseja to have stepped out of the line before the shot was taken.
The penalty was awarded to African Lyon after defender Paul Ngalema fouled Fred Lewis in the penalty area. They were made to pay almost immediately, when Ngassa pumped in the third for Simba just six minutes later, connecting home a good cross by youthful Haruna Chanongo. It was a roar all over the Stadium as Simba went to the dressing room with a 3-0 lead.
African Lyon coach Charle Otieno made several changes after the restart, bringing in Nigerian striker Bright Ike and Uganda Hood Mayanja, while Simba coach brought in defenders Komanbil Keita and Kigi Makassy, who replaced Mussa Mudde and Paul Ngalema respectively.
The changes benefited Lyon, who went on rampage right after the beginning of the second half, in which Ike had three chances in front of Simba goal but he failed to convert them. They pulled one back in the 59th minute thought Ike, who gave Simba defenders torrid 45 minutes.
The scorer reacted quickly to a cross from Jackson Kanywa, coolly controlled the ball and drifted away from keeper, Kaseja before slotting it in with ease. Ngassa almost responded immediately. He forced himself past a thick of defenders but keeper, Abdul Seif was on guard to clear the danger.
Ngassa then failed to score his first hat trick for Simba, when he saw his penalty parried off by the keeper in the 64th minute. In other league matches of the day Azam FC thrashed Kagera Sugar 3-1 at the Chamazi Complex. Abdi Kassim 'Babbi' put Azam ahead in the 20th minute before Khamis Mcha scored twice in the 31 and 66, Kagera's lone goal was netted by Paul Ngway eight minutes before the final whistle.
Mtibwa Sugar lost 1-0 at home against Polisi Morogoro, with Muzamil Said scoring in the 76, while Coastal Union beat Mgambo JKT 3-1, Ruvu Shooting won 1-0 against JKT Ruvu. JKT Oljoro beat Toto Africans 3-1 in Arusha. The league continues today when Yanga who want to wrest back the title they surrendered to their archrivals Simba last season, will be in action against Prisons of Mbeya at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Yanga will come into the league fresh from their two-week training stint in Turkey and they have already shown what is in store for the fans to expect after beating South African top-tier side Black Leopards twice. They won 3-2 in their first game at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam last Saturday, before winning 2-1 again this time at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on Wednesday.