8 March 2018

Africa: Simba Fail to Crack Al Masry

Simba face monumental task to progress into the next round of CAF Confederation Cup after being held to a 2-2 draw by Egyptian side, Al Masry at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, yesterday.

However, heavy rain disrupted the first round, first leg match in which referee had to stop for at least 40 minutes. Simba will have to win away in order to progress into the next round.

Skipper John Bocco took Simba ahead with a well taken penalty kick, but Mohammed Gomaa pulled level a few minutes later before Mohamed Ahmed netted the second from a spot kick. Emmanuel Okwi netted the equaliser midway in the second half.

Al Masry played with lots of confidence in the first 45 opening gminutes as Simba chased shadows. Simba were losing concentration, the midfield collapsed and the defence was porous.

They lacked precision from the rear to the attack. Al Masry started brightly and forced a corner kick just two minutes into the game as Aishi Manula dived low to parry of a shot from the right side. Simba hit back and in the 3rd minute, Emmanuel Okwi's cross almost found Bocco in space, but defenders were quick to rush for rescue Then Simba forced two corner kicks and were rewarded in the 7th minute, when referee Thando Helpus from South Africa awarded them a penalty.

It all started from Shiza Kichuya's corner kick and Bocco's header came off a defender's hand. Bocco stepped up and beat goalkeeper Ahmed Abdelwahab on his left as he dived the right way.

As Simba were still celebrating, Al Masray pulled level two minutes later, when Mohammed Gomaa scored a brilliant goal. His first time blistering shot in front of James Kotei few metres out precisely beat hapless Manula to make it 1-1. It was a wonderful cross from the right. Simba were further pegged back in the 24th minute, after Al Masry won a penalty. Kotei handed the ball in the box and Ahmed netted from a resultant spot kick. And Simba were under pressure.

In the 38th minute Okwi's set piece almost netted the equaliser but keeper stood firm between the post to collect the ball. In the second stanza, Simba were still poor in marking as the visitors started on a front foot again.

They were pressing for more goals and in the 49th minute Al Masry almost stretched the lead from a set piece but Shomary Kapombe cleared the danger to a corner kick. Simba made rare foray upfront in the 55th, but Ghanaian Nicholas Gyan failed to make contact with the ball from Kapombe's cross and in the 61st minute, Kapombe header from Kichuya's set piece was well collected by keeper.

Simba made changes in the 62nd minute when Burundian striker, Laudit Mavugo replaced Bocco and Simba slightly upped the tempo. In the 65th minute Okwi hit the right bar with a fierce shot after racing through to a Gyan's pass. Said Ndemla replaced Yusuph Mlipili as Simba maintained their ascendancy to the game. They pressed their opponents high up the pitch and won a penalty kick in the 74th minute.

Okwi charged up into the box and attempted to turn Mohamed Koffi inside out but the defender grabbed the ball with his hands. Okwi stepped up Okwi netted an equliser. With eight minutes to go, heavy rains pounded the city and the match officials had to call off the match for at least 30 minutes.

The match resumed and Simba piled pressure for the winner. Substitute Said Ndemla almost netted with a minute to go but his rasping shot sailed wide.

Al Masry also missed a glittering opportunity to score a winner deep into the game

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