DEFENDING champions Simba return to Vodacom Premier League (VPL) action, as they face Namungo FC at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam this evening.
The day will also see the second-placed Azam FC taking on Mtibwa Sugar in a match billed to be tough and thrilling at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Simba and Azam return into the league battle after a successful campaign in Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC), where they sailed into the last 16 round.
Simba bundled out Mwadui FC following a 2-1 win at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam last Saturday, while Azam beat Friends Rangers 3-1 at the Uhuru Stadium on Monday.
For Simba, they will be aiming at strengthening their grip of the top position in the league, which they sit top on 41 points from 16 matches. The match will kick off at 7pm.
In their last league outing, Simba eased past Alliance FC with a 4-1 win at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on January 19 th, 2020 and this came after labouring to beat Mbao FC 2-1 three days earlier at the same venue.
It was a successful campaign in Lake Zone, where they collected maximum six points and it meant that 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 post-Patrick Aussems era with the Sven Vandenbroeck yet to lose a league battle.
Vandenbroeck registered five league victories and a draw since taking charge of the team.
However, Vandenbroeck will continue to miss the services of returning attacker, Shiza Kichuya and the Mozambican winger Luis Miquissone, both signed during the mini-transfer window because they are yet to secure International Transfer Certificates (ITC).
However, it will not be an easy ride for Simba against Namungo, because the Lindi based side, despite be making their debut season in the top flight league, have proved to be a hard nut to crack.
Sitting fifth on 28 points same as fourth placed Y oung Africans after playing 15 matches each, Namungo will certainly cause threat to the giants as they seek to scale up the ladder.
They will come into the match fresh from signing a one-year sponsorship deal worth 150m/ – with SportPesa Tanzania.
With the new deal, Namungo is now the fourth team in the top flight contest after Simba, Y anga and Singida United to be sponsored by the leading gaming company in the country.
Azam, who are second, six points behind Simba after playing 16 matches, will also be seeking their sixth straight league victory as they face Mtibwa Sugar in a match to kick off at 4pm.
Azam will be looking to close gap with runaway league leaders Simba. However, the ‘ice cream makers’ will need to be cautious because struggling Mtibwa Sugar will be seeking resurgence.
Since they were crowned this year’s Mapinduzi Cup winners after defeating Simba 1-0 in the final match at the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar on January 13th 2020, Mtibwa failed to replicate the form displayed at the tournament in the league.
The league fixture will continue on Saturday with Simba hosting Coastal Union, Namungo will be at their home ground Majaliwa Stadium to play against Mbao FC, while Ndanda will welcome another Lake Zone based side Alliance at the Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium in Mtwara.
Elsewhere, Kagera Sugar will entertain Singida United at Kaitaba Stadium in Bukoba and Biashara United will face Mwadui in Karume Stadium in Mara, whereas Ruvu Shooting and Tanzania Prisons will battle it with Lipuli FC and KMC FC respectively.