- Simba will face Horoya away in Guinea
- They are looking to progress off the group stage for the first time
- Another East African side Al Hilal will be away to Mamelodi Sundowns
Tanzanian giants Simba SC will start their CAF Champions League group stage campaign on Saturday, taking on Guinean side Horoya AC in Conakry.
Wekundu Wa Msimbazi will look towards a better start compared to their East African neighbors Vipers of Uganda who started off with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Morocco’s Raja Club Athletic. They are in the same group.
Skipper John Bocco says the team is well prepared and ready to battle and protect the flag of the country and the region with a good performance in their first match.
“We have trained very well and the morale is there ahead of the game. We have faith in the preparations we have done and we just pray for the best results for a positive start to the group stage,” Bocco says.
He adds; “We are under no pressure at all but we know we are meeting a good team and they are very experienced at this level. But we also have some experience and we expect a tough game.”
Assistant coach Juma Mgunda is also optimistic the team will start well and also admits it will not be a walk in the park.
Desire to do well
“The boys have the desire to do well in the match. We respect our opponents because they have a lot of experience and have played the group stage three seasons in a row so they are not an easy team. They also have a good record playing at home and definitely we expect it tough. But, we will be going for the three points and are worse, a draw.” Said the tactician.
This will be head coach Roberto Oliveira’s maiden bow in continental football with Simba, having joined them last month from Vipers, where he helped them qualify for the group stages for the first time ever.
Meanwhile down in South Africa, it will be a tactical battle between Sudan’s Al Hilal and Mamelodi Sundowns. Hilal are coached by experienced trainer Florent Ibenge who won the CAF Confederations Cup with Morocco’s RS Berkane last year.
Sundowns are under the tutelage of one of the continent’s brightest coaches, Rhulani Mokwena.
Sundowns look towards a winning start
The South Africans had an unbeaten run in the group stages last season and are keen to replicate the same form, as explained by the tactician.
“The Champions League is important for Mamelodi Sundowns especially with the objectives set. This season we plan to try our best to win every match and competition. Al-Hilal is doing very well in the league and we’ve managed to get a little bit of their videos against Simba SC and Azam FC. We know we have to play against a good side with impressive physical profiles that their players have, including their speed on counterattacks when they sit on a low block,” Mokwena said.
The tactician admitted that coming up against an Ibenge coached side will be a different challenge, but remains confident they can battle for a win.
The match will be played at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
In other matches, another Sudanese side Al Merrikh will be away to Esperance of Tunisia in Tunis while Petro de Luanda will face JS Kabilye in Angola.