TANZANIA’S flag bearers in CAF Champions League Simba SC have said that they do not fear any opponent in their quarterfinal stage.
The Mainland champions insist that they want to progress further in the competition, rather than qualifying for the super eight stages.
“We don’t care whom we will be drawn to face, whoever comes against us, we are ready to deal with them, secondly, we have already set the targets we want to achieve in the competition and that is what we are looking at,” said the club’s information officer, Haji Manara.
“So far we are now rated among the top ten best teams in Africa and it is not me saying, but simply statistics after our heroics in the group stage matches,” Manara was quoted as saying.
The Msimbazi giants reached the quarter-finals of the competition after topping Group A with 13 points, which also had African champions Al Ahly (11), AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (7), and Al Merrikh of Sudan (2) Simba, led by coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa, ended up their group fixtures with a 1-0 defeat against Al Ahly, but that result did not deny them top spot.
The draw for the quarter and semi-finals will be held on 30 April at the Confederation of African Football's headquarters in Cairo. The quarterfinalists are Simba (Tanzania), Al Ahly (Egypt), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Belouizdad (Algeria), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa), Esperance (Tunisia) and MC Alger (Algeria).
According to the competition’s rules, clubs cannot be drawn against the team they met in the group stage. And this therefore guarantees Simba to face in the quarterfinals one of the following three teams, Kaizer Chief of South Africa, following their heroic draw in Guinea on Saturday night, or Algeria’s CR Belouizdad who clinched the remaining Total CAF Champions League Group B quarter final qualification slot after beating Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 on Friday or Algeria’s MC Alger, who on Saturday came from down to draw 1-1 with Esperance of Tunisia.
However, in most cases, Simba will face teams which they have never played before and unfamiliar in the competition, but will rely on their history for their preparations. Kaizer Chiefs, the 2001 African CAF Winners' Cup, do not have a success story to tell on their CAF Club tournaments compared to Simba, who have reached the quarterfinal stages twice.
Known as Amakhosi, Kaizer Chiefs’ first participation in a CAF Cup competition came in the 1993 African Champions Cup, nowadays called the Champions League.
Amakhosi reached the second round of the Champions Cup in 1993 when it was beaten in two rounds by Egyptian side Zamalek. The biggest success of the Glamour Boys on the African continent came in 2001, winning the CAF Winners’ Cup.
Algeria’s CR Belouizdad, despite their domestic football prowess, have on the other hand, two boasting records of reaching quarterfinals of African CAF Winners Cup in 1979 and 1996, but they have an early eliminations history in both CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.
Algeria’s MC Alger, apart from their domestic and regional prowess, seems to be a powerful opponent to Simba, with a history of participating in CAF Champions League seven times, were crowned champions in 1976 of the then African Cup of Champions Club now known as CAF Champions League and reached the quarterfinal twice and once in CAF Confederation Cup.
Simba have so much to tell as well, apart from their domestic and regional prowess, have reached quarterfinals of CAF Champions League twice from 10 appearances, the first time in 2018/19 and reached quarterfinals of African Cup of Champions Club in 1994 and the biggest milestone was reaching CAF Cup finals in 1993.
Simba’s French coach, Didier Gomes is adamant that his boys can spoil their opponents and stand among title contenders. Their success did not come by chance but rather they properly arranged their roadmap and took each game seriously while knowing that the secret to shine is hidden in ample preparations. Until this juncture, in CAF Champions League, the Reds are among the tough opponents that most teams would not want to face basing on the available statistics. Simba's target was to reach into the semifinals of the champions league but reaching the finals will be a bonus.
Having qualified for the quarterfinals, each of the quarterfinalist will pocket USD 650,000 ( approximately about Tsh1.5 billion). The semifinalists will each pocket USD 875,000 ( about TSh2 billion). Runner up will earn USD 1.25 million ( about Tsh 2.9 billions while the would-be champion will go away with USD 2.5 million ( about Tsh 5.75 billions)