Battle lines drawn as Simba clash with Al Ahly

Dar es Salaam: All football fans’ attention will likely be on the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam today, where Tanzania giants Simba will host Al Ahly in the first leg of the CAF Champions League.

The eagerly awaited match is scheduled to kick off at 9pm and will be officiated by South African referee Abongile Tom, assisted by Dahane Beida from Mauritania and Ahmad Imtehaz from Mauritius. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will also be in charge of the encounter.

The match is expected to be intense given the teams’ records in the competition and their previous head-to-head matches.

In the recent African Football League (AFL), Simba were eliminated on the away goal rule after a 2-2 draw at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium and a 1-1 draw in the away match.

So far, Simba and Ahly have played eight matches, each winning three at their home ground and drawing two matches – one in Dar es Salaam and one in Cairo, Egypt.

However, Simba have always dominated the Egyptian giants at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium. In these matches, Simba scored seven goals and Ahly scored 12 in total.

This is also the first time the teams will meet in the knockout stage of the CAF Champions League.

Simba’s head coach Abdelhak Benchikha exuded confidence that his team would get a positive result in the encounter.

 He said: “We need victory in the encounter even though it is not going to be an easy game. Our players are aware of that. We have trained well. We are ready for the encounter. We know Al Ahly will come with different approaches, targeting to take revenge on us.”

Benchikha also mentioned that his players had responded well to training and all are in high spirits ahead of the eagerly-awaited encounter.

Al Ahly head coach Marcel Koller said they are expecting a strong opposition in the match but added that they have prepared well.

Koller stressed that his players are in a good mood to face Simba and record a victory.

“Simba have good players, but my men are determined to win,” he said.

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