Coach Abdelhak Benchikha says Simba SC will turn the tables against Al Ahly

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Coach Abdelhak Benchikha says Simba SC will turn the tables against Al Ahly
Simba SC suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first leg
Simba SC suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first leg
AFP
Simba SC head coach Abdelhak Benchikha (60) has promised to turn the tables when they face Al Ahly of Egypt in the return leg quarter-final clash of the CAF Champions League at Cairo International Stadium on Friday.

The Tanzanian outfit will face a tall order against the defending champions having suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first leg at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 29. The North Africans needed a goal from Ahmed Kouka (22) to floor the Wekundu wa Msimbazi and put one leg in the semi-finals.

Simba will turn the tables

However, according to Benchikha the two sides have only played 90 minutes and still have another 90 to play which his side will use to turn the tables against the North Africans.

“It is not over until it is over, we only played 90 minutes in Tanzania, and we still have another 90 minutes to come in Cairo, we have enough qualities to overturn the tables, nothing is impossible in the world of football, the defeat was painful for us but we are heading to Cairo with a mission to play and win the game,” Benchikha told Flashscore.

A bullish Benchikha, who guided USM Alger to the Confederation Cup trophy in 2022 after defeating Simba rivals Young Africans (Yanga SC) in the final, further questioned why pundits felt it would be difficult to win in Cairo.

“If Al Ahly managed to beat us in our backyard, what makes you think we cannot beat them in Cairo?” Benchikha posed a question. He added: “We have rectified mistakes from the outcome of the first leg and our focus is to win away, we don’t want to give up, football is a weird game, with weird results, it doesn’t matter if you are playing at home or away if you prepare well and play according to plans, then it is possible to win.”

Match stats from first leg
Flashscore

During the first leg, Simba squandered a host of scoring chances with Zambia midfielder Clatous Chama missing a glorious sitter in a one-on-one situation, the same as winger Fabrice Ngoma and striker Willy Onana, who were wasteful in front of the goal. Benchikha is adamant his players have learnt from their past mistakes and will be ready for the showdown in Cairo.

“The outcome of the first game was different from how we played, we deserved better, but we were also not good enough at using our chances and that was our main undoing. My players must be calm in front of the goal, it is something we have discussed since the game and I hope we will produce a different.”

Benchikha added: “Our target in the competition remains the same, Simba to qualify for the semis, we indeed lost because of our own mistakes, I have talked to the players to forget the first leg outcome, they must now put focus on the Cairo contest and I promise our fans that we will not let them down.”

Al Ahly vs Simba head-to-head

The defeat in Dar es Salaam was the first ever for Simba against Al Ahly on home soil. In history, the two sides have met nine times in all competitions with Simba managing three wins, Al Ahly winning four, and two matches ending in draws.

Before the first leg fixture, the two sides had met last year in the inaugural CAF African Football League, Simba pulling a 2-2 draw in the first leg meeting at Benjamin Mkapa before travelling to Cairo, where they secured a 1-1 draw.

In 2021, the two giants met in the group stage of the Champions League, Simba stunning Al Ahly 1-0 at home courtesy of a Luis Miquissone goal in the 31st minute before losing the away game 1-0, the goal scored by Mohamed Sherif in the 32nd minute at WE Al-Ahly Stadium.

Recent H2H meetings
Flashscore

In 2019, they met again in the same competition, and at the group stage, Al Ahly smashed Simba 5-0 in the first meeting at Borg El Arab Stadium but Simba recovered to win the reverse fixture 1-0.

Sundowns vs Yanga SC

While Simba will have to overturn a 1-0 defeat, Yanga will come up against South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns seeking to advance to the semi-finals on Friday. The two sides played out to a 0-0 draw in the first leg and the Timu ya Mwananchi will need to produce a spectacular game against the Brazilians in the fixture at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Yanga coach Miguel Gamondi insists they will take the game to Sundowns despite playing away. “I wish we won the first leg game but I am very proud of what the boys did. We had a fantastic game against the best team in Africa and a 0-0 result is not a bad one,” Gamondi told reporters.

“We don’t intend to change how we played against them at home, we must attack them to stand a chance (to qualify), I don’t want us to play defensively, because we need goals to win the game, so we will go at them. In Tanzania, we went toe to toe and I think we created more chances than them, so I want the same game replicated in South Africa.”

Whoever wins between Yanga and Sundowns will book a date with either Tunisia’s Esperance or Ivorian outfit ASEC Mimosas in the last four scheduled for late April.

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