Tanzanian club Simba endured some anxious moments at the weekend before sealing an African Champions League second-round date with title holders TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Dar es Salaam outfit were expected to have an easy passage to the last-32 stage of the premier club competition on the continent after forcing a goalless first-leg draw at Elan Club Mitsoudje on the Comoros Islands.
Although Simba won the return encounter 4-2 at Uhuru Stadium in the Indian Ocean city, the visitors opened the scoring close to half-time and were in contention until Amri Kiemba struck the final goal of the game on 71 minutes.
Lower pulse rates
This was not the performance Zambia-born Simba coach Patrick Phiri wanted to see given the strength of Mazembe, who will host the first leg on March 20 in Lubumbashi with the return match scheduled for Tanzania two weeks later.
Mazembe created football ripples far beyond Africa last December by becoming the first team outside of Europe and South America to reach the Fifa Club World Cup final with a 2-0 victory over Internacional of Brazil.
Simba recovered swiftly from the shock of falling behind with Mbwana Samata and Ugandan Patrick Ochan scoring just before and after half-time and a second Samata goal gave the home team a two-goal cushion.
But gallant Mitsoudje pulled one goal back midway through the second half and it took something special from Kiemba to lower pulse rates among Tanzanian football followers.
Introduced for Mohamed Banka, he caught sight of the visitors’ net and unleashed a fierce drive that flew into the roof over goalkeeper Youssouf Ahmada.
That goal broke the resistance of Mitsoudje, but Simba will have to do much better if they hope to eliminate Mazembe, who received a first round bye with eight other clubs.
In the Confederation Cup, the three-prong Moroccan assault came within seconds of being reduced.
Yanga victims of ‘dirty tricks’
Difaa al-Jadida needed a last-minute goal from Vivien Mabide to snatch a 1-1 draw at home to Malians Centre Salif Keita and a second-round place on the away-goal rule.
CSK exceeded expectations, however, by surviving the anticipated early Jadida onslaught and snatching the lead midway through the second half via Yacouba Niare.
Fellow Moroccans Moghreb Fes scored twice in the final five minutes to complete a 4-1 victory over Benin visitors USS Krake after a drawn first leg in west Africa.
Tanzanian outfit Young Africans claimed they were victims of ‘dirty tricks’ after a 2-0 loss to Dedebit in Ethiopia sealed their fate following an eight-goal first-leg deadlock two weeks ago.
Officials told a Dar es Salaam newspaper that they were forced to wait four hours at Addis Ababa airport before being taken to a sub-standard hotel and new accommodation was secured only when the Tanzanian ambassador intervened.
Yanga were second best on the field against opponents who were appearing in Africa for the first time this year and Getaneh Kebebe and Temesgan Tekle scored the goals that set up a date with Harras al-Hodoud of Egypt. (AFP)