Dar es Salaam. After an imperious campaign on the domestic front, Simba will have to show they have come of age when they launch their Africa Champions League adventure today.
It is 15 years since the Msimbazi Reds reached the group stage of the continent’s premier club tournament and five seasons since they last appeared in the competition.
They set out in pursuit of the $2.5 million (Sh5.8 billion) cash prize with a potentially tricky match against Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.
Mbabane Swallows, who arrived in the country on Monday night, are vastly experienced African competitors The Swaziland team reached the group stage of the 2017/2018 Champions League.
However, playing at home gives Simba an opportunity to create a lead they can defend next week in a return leg in Swaziland.
The preliminary round, first leg clash kicks off at 4pm at the 60,000-seater National Stadium, and is expected to draw a capacity crowd.
Simba – the 19-time Mainland Premier League – were yesterday busy, perfecting their tactics ahead of the clash.
And team coach Patrick Aussems has expressed optimism that this year, they will do much better than in the previous editions.
Last year, they competed in the Confederation Cup and suffered early elimination.
They were knocked out by Al Masry of Egypt.
“We are well prepared for the game. Our target is to reach as far as we possibly can in the Champions League,” Aussems said yesterday.
Strikers John Bocco, Meddie Kagere and Emmanuel Okwi are among players the Mainland champions bank on for goals in today’s match.
Simba, who reached the Caf Cup (now Confederation Cup) final in 1993, need a win so as to ease pressure ahead of the return leg.
If they eliminate the Swallows, the Msimbazi Street giants would face the winner between Mozambique’s Uniao Despotivo Do Songo or Nkana Red Devils of Zambia in the next round.