DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 25 – Bandari FC head coach Bernard Mwalala says he is excited at the prospect of facing Tanzanian giants Simba SC in the semi-final of the SportPesa Cup at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Friday afternoon.
Prior to the tournament kick off and their first round win over Singida United, Mwalala who made his name playing for Yanga in the Vodacom Premier League had hoped to play either against his former employers or Simba at one stage in the tournament.
This, he said was to give his players a taste of top flight Tanzanian football and his wish has been granted after progressing to the last four and landing a chance to play Simba on Tuesday afternoon.
“It will be a good experience for my players. They are young and it will be the first time they will play in a game with such an atmosphere. Playing against Simba or Yanga gives you the feel of it; that’s the sweetness of football. That experience will be great for them to build their confidence especially going back to the Kenyan Premier League,” noted Mwalala.
His sentiments are echoed by skipper Felly Mulumba who insists they are not scared of facing Wekundu wa Msimbazi.
“We respect Simba. It is a good team playing good football but we are under no pressure. The morale is high in camp and as Bandari, we love these big matches. Back at home in Mombasa, we don’t have as many fans as Simba do have,”
“But as players we love to play against a team which has a huge number of fans and we force them to turn against their own teams. There’s no pressure for us, we are waiting for the game to give our best,” Mulumba noted.
Bandari labored to beat Singida 1-0 via a William Wadri penalty and Mwalala has admitted the team didn’t play as well as he would have wished but is confident they will give an improved performance against Simba.
“We didn’t play our usual game against Singida because most of these players have never played international matches and it was a bit of pressure for them. We won’t change much though against Simba, we will just stick to our style and probably do well a bit on confidence,” Mwalala noted.
He added; “Simba is a very good team and I know they are very well prepared for this game. They have the disappointment of losing 5-0 in the Champions League and want to make amends by winning this tournament. But, we are ready for them,” Mwalala noted.
The former striker made his name playing for Yanga and he hopes a few will come to the stadium on Tuesday and cheer him on against their eternal rivals.
Bandari have not lost a single match since their 2-1 defeat to Wazito last September and having played most of their pre-season friendly matches in Zanzibar, they feel more or less at home playing in Dar es Salaam.
The dockers are playing their first ever Sportpesa Cup tournament and their minimum target coming in was at least to get to the semis. Now that they have achieved their target, Mwalala hopes they can go one more step and get to the final.
The opportunity of playing Everton in a friendly match also appeals to them and Mwalala has vowed to give his best to see the team go through.