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Simba claw Leopards to make Super Cup semi

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AFC Leopards defender Isaac Kipyegon skips away from Simba’s Zana Coulibaly during their SportPesa Super Cup match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 23, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 23 – A late fight back from AFC Leopards did not bear fruit as the 13-time Kenyan Premier League champions fell 2-1 to Tanzanian giants Simba SC who qualified for the semi-finals of the SportPesa Super Cup at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday evening.

Goals in either half from Emmanuel Okwi and Clatous Chama did the damage for Simba despite Vincent Oburu’s mid-second half goal that sparked the futile fight from two goals down.

Simba who reached last year’s finals and lost to Gor Mahia will play another Kenyan outfit Bandari FC in Friday evening’s semi-final at the same venue.

Wekundu wa Msimbazi did not show any signs of a hangover despite arriving in the Tanzanian capital just a few days from a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of AS Vita in a CAF Champions League match in DR Congo.

The home side broke the deadlock after 13 minutes, Okwi striking them ahead with a deflected shot inside the box.

A brilliant team move by the home side saw Zana Coulubaly released on the right and the wingback laid in a brilliant first time well weighted cross met by Okwi at the backpost unmarked. The Ugandan swept his markers away before striking a stinging shot that was deflected beyond keeper Jairus Adira.

Simba had kept a commanding start to the match, keeping possession, passing with ease and pushed on by the sizeable crowd that had come out for the early evening kick off.

AFC Leopards Whyvonne Isuza vies for the ball with Simba’s Jonas Mkude during their SportPesa Super Cup match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 23, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

In the 19 minutes, Coulibaly sent Okwi through again this time with a long ball planted behind the defense. However, Adira was hawkeyed in the AFC goal and he rushed out quick, sweeping away the ball with his feet as Okwi tried to dribble past him.

AFC’s first chance of the game came through in the 24th minute and it was off a set-piece, Robinson Kamura sending it straight to keeper Aishi Manula after Eugene Mukangula was axed at the edge of the area.

Four minutes later, Ingwe who were building their confidence step by step should have surely been level but Congolese striker Wayeka Tutawe, signed from Tanzania’s Africa Lyon in the beginning of the season wasted a glorious opportunity.

The forward muscled away from Rashid Juma on the left before breaking into the box, but he chose to cut back the ball to Brian Marita instead of shooting.

With the defense clouding around the winger, Marita was forced to tee up Edward Seda at the edge of the box but the midfielder’s shot was weak ending up in a routine save for Manula.

AFC Leopards midfielder Edward Seda moves the ball forward during the SportPesa Super Cup match against Simba SC at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 23, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Two inutes later Tutawe came close when Marita knocked down Mukangula’s header for hm at the near post, but his shot brushed the bar on its way out.

At the start of the second half, Simba tactician Patrick Aussems made changes, Meddie Kagere, Murushid Juuko and James Kotei all coming on for Hunlede Kisimbo, Serge Pascal Wawa and Jonas Mkude respectively.

It took them just four minutes to double their advantage when Chama shot into the bottom right corner after being fed off by Okwi who had done well to sprint away from Isaac Kipyegon on the left.

Adira was called into a brilliant save in the 56th minute when he sprung up brilliantly to tip over a Hassan Dilunga shot from distance after he was teed up by Okwi.

Despite going down twice, AFC made a case for themselves with constant attacks and they made changes upfront, Vincent Oburu coming on for Wayeka while Aziz Okaka was on for Brian Marita.

AFC Leopards defender Yussuf Mainge goes past Smba SC’s Rashid Juma during their SportPesa Super Cup match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 23, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Barely with his first touch of the ball, Okaka set up Oburu for Ingwe’s goal, running down the right before squaring a pass that Oburu scrambled into the net.

AFC piled pressure to get the second goal and potentially send the game to penalties, but Simba held on for the slim advantage.

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