22 February 2019

Tanzania: Simba, Azam in Cut-Throat Tie

MAINLAND Premier League defending champions, Simba will be looking to strengthen their title defence campaign today, when they face second-placed Azam FC at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Recent victories against Egyptians Al Ahly in CAF Champions League group stage, as well as win over traditional rivals Young Africans and African Lyon in previous league matches will give Simba perfect momentum going into the game against Azam today.

Simba recorded a 1-0 win over Al Ahly at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago and beat Yanga by the similar margin at the same venue last Saturday.

Patrick Aussems charges managed to grab a 3-0 victory over African Lyon on Tuesday evening at Sheikh Amri Abeid Kaluta Stadium in Arusha despite poor pitch condition. Skipper John Bocco grabbed a brace with a goal in either half, while Adam Salamba netted one in a scrappy game at a venue packed to the brim.

Immediately after the match, Aussems said their concentration was now on Friday (tomorrow) game where his side will face another big test in their title defence campaign from Dutchman's Hans Van der Pluijm side, Azam.

Simba are placed third on 42 points from 17 league games and will certainly be eager to close gap with league leaders Yanga, who are on 61 points and reduce gap against second placed Azam to five. Azam have posted 50 points from 24 matches.

Going into the match, Aussems said that their target is to collect maximum points in all coming league matches, so as to ensure to be in a better position to retain their title.

Simba are expected to deploy all key players, who were rested during the game against African Lyon.

During the match, Aussems and his newly appointed assistant, Dennis Kitambi opted to rest some key players such as Meddie Kagere, Emmanuel Okwi, Jjuko Murshid and Clatous Chama probably to keep them fresh for Azam's encounter.

The technical bench made the tactic changes to reduce fatigue on players, who featured in two consecutive big games against Al Ahly and Yanga.

However, Simba will certainly face a difficult task, as Azam who are the match hosts are also eager to return to winning ways after experiencing topsy-turvy results.

Azam have managed to earn only three points in their previous four matches, losing one against Tanzania Prisons and three draws against Lipuli, Alliance FC and Coastal Union. The results slowed down Azam in their race to catch up with leaders Yanga, who are now 11 points ahead of them.

Regardless, Azam under Head Coach, Hans Van der Pluijm are still title contenders and victory against Simba today will reinvigorate their mission to win second league title in history. Azam will also be looking to prove that their 2-1 win over Simba in this year's Mapinduzi Cup finals in Zanzibar was not a fluke and that they can do it again.

Pluijm's side with such quality players like Obrey Chirwa, Donald Ngoma, Tafdzwa Kutinyu and Salum Abubakar, is expected to be a tough hurdle for Simba today, as they search their first win after failing to do so in their past four matches.

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