Dar es Salaam. Coach Patrick Aussems has described today’s Caf Champions League clash against Egypt’s Al Ahly as a matter of ‘life’ and ‘death’ for Simba.
The Msimbazi Reds have made no secret of their desire to keep their Champions League dream alive at the expense of Al Ahly.
The Group D match starts at 4pm at the National Stadium. It will be handled by referee Mahmood Ali Ismail from Sudan.
Simba, who sit third in the group with three points from the same number of matches, must beat Al Ahly if they are to remain in contention for a last-eight slot.
“Al Ahly are a strong team as those who have seen them in action can attest, but we are ready for the challenge. We can’t afford another defeat,” said Aussems.
Al Ahly have been in the country since Sunday for the anxiously awaited clash.
A win for the Cairo Red Devils would lift them to 10 points from four matches in Group D.
And that total will guarantee Ahly a place in the quarter-finals unless bottom-of-the-table JS Saoura of Algeria end a three-match winless run by overcoming Congolese visitors V Club.
Saoura came from two goals down to hold Vita Club in Kinshasa, and maximum points at home against the Congolese would throw open the race for second place.
Al Ahly banged five goals past Simba in Egypt despite lacking nine potential first choices, including loanee Ramadan Sobhi from English Premier League strugglers Huddersfield Town.
But they need only check the record books to know the return match at the 60,000-seater venue today may be far more difficult — they lost 2-1 on a previous visit.
Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa can all but seal progress to the knockout phase if they collect maximum points.
Wydad should have little difficulty defeating Lobi Stars of Nigeria in Rabat having already done so in west Africa, thanks to a Mohamed Nahiri penalty.
Sundowns were far superior to ASEC Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire when winning 3-1 in Pretoria.
But Abidjan holds bitter memories for Sundowns with their last visit ending in a humiliating 6-1 hiding from Africa Sports.
Reigning African champions Esperance of Tunisia have thrown away an advantage over Orlando Pirates of South Africa after bringing forward the Tunis kick-off time by six hours.
Esperance will also lack support at Stade el Menzah with the club serving the second half of a two-match ban over crowd trouble last season.
TP Mazembe of DR Congo are away to Club Africain of Tunisia, the team they humiliated 8-0 this month for a record Champions League group-stage victory.
The north Africans reacted to the debacle by claiming the Congolese had drugged them by injecting substances into their food in Lubumbashi.
Five-time African champions Mazembe then pointed out that Africain had chosen their hotel and brought food, water and a cook from Tunisia.
The Congolese said they expect “fair play” in Rades, a plea they hope will be heeded by the often troublesome supporters of Club Africain.