DEFENDING champions Simba regained the eight-point lead at the summit of the Vodacom Premier League following a hard fought 2-1 win over Mbao at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on Thursday.
Midfielders Hassan Dilunga and Jonas Mkude scored in either half as Waziri Junior reduced the margin in a second half but Simba hanged on to register crucial maximum points in race for the silverware.
Simba opened the eight-point gap at the top of the league table after hauling 38 points from 15 matches. Coastal Union are placed second on 30 points from 17 matches, while Azam FC, who beat Lipuli FC from Iringa 2-0 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday night are third with 29 points from 14 matches.
It means, Simba recovered from a previous set back in the league after being pegged back by their traditional rivals Young Africans following a 2-2 draw at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 4th this year.
The Reds, however, are undefeated in the ongoing league in postPatrick Aussems era with the new Head Coach Sven Vanderbroeck yet to lose a league battle.
Vanderbroeck has registered his fourth victory since taking charge of the team.
It was bright start for the visitors, who came into the game fresh from losing 1-0 to Mtibwa Sugar in this year's Mapinduzi Cup final at the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar last Monday.
Just a minute from the kickoff, skipper John Bocco made a good run down the right and his cross was well met by Sudanese midfielder, Sharraf Shiboub's header, which was calmly collected by goalkeeper Abdallah Makangana.
In the 3rd minute, Shomari Kapombe's long ball almost beat goalkeeper, who had top backtrack to tip it over the bar. Both sides opted for long balls due to poor pitch condition.
Mbao first attempt came from Datus Peter, whose shot failed to hit the target.
Mbao FC Head Coach, Hemed Morocco made an early change in the 32nd minute as the host sought to neutralize Simba strength in the midfield, when he introduced Herbert Lukindo for Adil Sultan.
The changes slightly gave Mbao a bit of energy as they somewhat managed to contain Simba's pressure and give the Msimbazi Reds difficult time to execute their game plan.
Simba maintained pressure and in the 37th minute, Bocco stung keeper Makangana's gloves with a long range drive and there was no Simba player lurking in the box to finish it off.
However, Simba's pressing paid off in the 41st minute, when Dilunga's left foot 35metres screamer beat keeper for the opener.
A minute before the interval, creative midfielder, Ibrahim Ajib wasted a good opportunity to score the second when he blazed the set piece away.
Immediately after the break, it was 2-0 up for Simba, when Mkude was left unmarked in the box and he powered home Ajib's corner kick.
Mbao reorganized and in the 53rd minute they pulled one back.
Waziri Junior beat Beno Kakolanya with a near post header, finishing off from a well weighed in cross from Lukindo as Simba defenders --Erasto Nyoni and Mohammed Hussein were caught flat footed.
It was the fifth goal of the campaign for Junior.
After the goal, Mbao tail was up and they kept pushing for an equaliser but Simba defence marshaled by Pascal Wawa, stood firm to thwart myriads of dead balls inside their zone.
Clatous Chama, who had several scoring opportunities in the first half wasted two more chances in the 57th and 82nd minutes respectively.
After pressing high up field, he managed to steal the ball but in both occasions, he shot straight into the waiting hands of goalkeeper.
In the 65th minute, Lukindo's almost pulled level with a bicycle kick, connecting a cross in from the right side with keeper Kakolanya well beaten. With seven minutes to go, Bocco missed double chance.
The first came from a rebound but his chip narrowly missed the target and then, Dilunga latched onto a drop ball before releasing a cross that failed to make contact with the stretching legs of Bocco.
In the dying minutes of the game, referee waved play on as it appeared Dilunga was clearly fouled at the edge of the box.
After yesterday's match, Simba will remain in the Lake Zone, ahead of their next match against Alliance FC set for Sunday at the same venue for a possible six points haul, which will see them hitting 41 points if they win.
Mbao, who are winless in their past four consecutive league matches remain 14th placed from 17 matches.
It has been a back foot start of the season by Mbao, who are still struggling to get winning consistency in the league and they are not safe from the relegation zone.
From their 17 games, Mbao have just won four matches with six draws and seven losses in that order to garner 18 points