Simba SC made it five out of five to go back on top of the Tanzanian Premier League table after a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Singida Big Stars, in a thrilling encounter at Liti Stadium in Singida.
Goals from Burundian playmaker Saido Ntibazonkiza and Zambia striker Patrick Phiri in either half, sandwiched by Deus Kaseke’s second-half equaliser, sealed a vital win for the Reds in their quest to regain the top-flight silverware.
The victory steered Simba back to the helm after fetching the maximum 15 points, two ahead of second-placed Azam and three above holders and archrivals Young Africans (Yanga SC). On the other hand, Singida Big Stars dropped to ninth with five points. They have won once, drawn twice, and lost twice.
After an early scare when Singida United Kenyan hitman Elvis Rupia missed a sitter, Simba swiftly turned into top gear and dominated the opening exchange and deservedly took the lead through Ntibazonkiza’s grass cutter effort from outside the box after a good work down the right flank by Kibu Denis, who beat a number of his markers before setting up the scorer.
Simba made their first meaningful attempt after the 17th minute through Kibu but Singida Big Stars goalkeeper Beno Kakolanya stood firm to save his side from a bullet strike set on him. Singida Big Stars responded through Bruno Gomes’s strike that Simba’s goalkeeper Ally Salim made a good save.
In just a minute, Simba responded with two quick shots from Shomari Kapombe and Kenedy Juma, but both were kept away by Kakolanya. Simba kept pushing for the opener which finally arrived when Ntibanzonkiza’s thunderous drive from Denis’ assist, beat the diving Kakolanya in the 26th minute.
Singida Big Stars came into the second half more energetic and substitute Kaseke drew the parity with a close-range effort after Simba’s defence had failed to clear the ball in the 52nd minute of the game.