Excitement is the mood everywhere in the city of Dar es Salaam as virtual national club champions Simba SC battle Sudanese side Al Ahly Shandy in a last 16 first leg tie at the National Stadium late Sunday.
While the local side seeks outright win, the visitors gun for an away goal, a tourney-defining method introduced by FIFA to find a method of picking winners when there are draws or balanced finishing after two matches. This method has also helped Simba; Al Ahly know they need one away goal to uplift spirits.
At the time that Simba were preparing to meet Setif of Algeria, someone wrote that Simba has on balance did well against North African sides, which can be extended a bit southwards, as Al Ahly Shandy isn’t quite in the north. But compared with Setif it is less famous, a shadow of its Cairo namesake, but as it has arrived in the last 16, nothing can be taken for grated.
Similarly, the Sudanese side coach was saying that Simba is now among major clubs on the continent, which was a bit generous, but he knows they bite.
One way of finding out who stands a good chance of winning an encounter or a round of play is to look at their trail, that the one who faced stiffer opposition and overcame it has a better chance of winning. On that score Simba would appear to have an advantage as they eliminated Setif, a club that is more acknowledged around the continent than Simba, or any Tanzania or East African club for that matter. Al Ahly Shandy on the other hand eliminated Ferroviario of Mozambique, which largely compares with Simba in its fame.
If fame comparisons weren’t a good key to results, the goal margins could be, as Simba put aside Kiyovu of Rwanda on a 3-2 aggregate, and then found it a little stiffer to cross over Setif, obtaining a 3-3 aggregate by virtue of an away goal.
Al Ahly Shandy by contrast had a clean 3-0 aggregate on Ferroviario, who could be compared to Kiyovu, if not Setif.
What it means though is that Al Ahly have an unbeatable defence which the Mozambican side found no way of getting through it in slightly over 180 minutes of play.
At the same time, statistically a team that wins by a scrappy margin more than once, when it faces higher opposition, the scrappy win run comes to an end, for a few things would be tightened up with the higher placed opponents than previously.
So unless there was something particularly wrong with organization at Ferroviario, which could explain the margin against Al Ahly, it would imply that the Mozambican side is at least as strong as Kiyovu, and marginally as well as Setif, in which case their 3-0 aggregate loss against Al Ahly speaks volumes of the capacities of the Sudanese side, which may today be seen.