Stars’ midfielder Kahata’s Simba SC crowned champions
Dar Es Salaam, Monday
Harambee Stars’ midfielder Francis Kahata led his Simba SC team mates in celebrations after steering the side to the Tanzania League title on Sunday.
Tanzania was the first nation in Africa to restart their league after a three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Like every country in Africa except Burundi, who continued playing while Covid-19 spread, Tanzania suspended football in mid-March to combat the deadly virus.
Simba held a commanding 17-point lead when the championship resumed this month and sealed a third consecutive title despite being held 0-0 at home by mid-table Prisons.
The point took the Dar es Salaam outfit to 79 points, 19 more than greatest rivals Young Africans with six rounds remaining.
Simba and Dar es Salaam neighbours Young Africans have dominated Tanzanian football during the past decade, winning nine of the 10 title races.
But neither side has made an impact in the CAF Champions League with Simba suffering a shock preliminary round defeat by UD Songo of Mozambique last season.
Both clubs have Belgian coaches with Sven Vandenbroeck in charge of Simba while Luc Eymael recently joined Young Africans.
Vandenbroeck assisted Cameroon head coach and compatriot Hugo Broos when the ‘Indomitable Lions’ surprisingly won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
But he struggled after being named coach of Zambia, lasting only eight months before being ditched when the former champions failed to qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations.
Eymael first coached in Africa 10 years ago, at V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has also worked in Gabon, Algeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, Sudan, South Africa and Egypt.
Eymael congratulated the victors for their feat but promised them a run for their money next season.
“I want to congratulate them for winning the league, I am a guy who loves fair play and I think I have to congratulate them for the latest fete,” Eymael told Goal on Monday.
“The difference between Simba and Yanga on the league table was already too big when I arrived, I think Yanga was number six when I arrived to take over but already moving from number six to two is not bad but Simba also deserved to win the crown because they were the most consistent side in the league.”
Asked on whether he will plan to give Simba a proper challenge in the new season, Eymael said: “I am not talking about that, for now, I am thinking first of all to finish the league as high as possible and we must make sure we keep second position to the end and also on Tuesday we have a domestic Cup fixture and our target is to reach the semi-final.
“One game at a time is the solution, each game as its own story and it is very important to tackle the matches a game at a time, we don’t want to start thinking about next season when we still have matches to play.”
But if they drop more points in those two games and the title really starts to slip away then the board will have a big decision to make.