Simba SC kicked off their campaign in the African Football League with a 2-2 draw against Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first leg of the quarter-final fixture at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium on Friday.
The Red Devils took the lead in the 45th minute when Reda Slim slotted home after Wekundu wa Msimbazi were caught napping but Kibu Dennis levelled matters in the 53rd minute when he found himself unmarked inside the Al Ahly goalmouth and headed home a cross from Clatous Chama and in the 59th minute Sadio Kanoute made it 2-1 off a corner from Ntibazonkiza Saidi.
However, Simba lost concentration yet again in the 63rd minute as Mahmoud Kahraba slotted home to make it 2-2 after a quickly taken free-kick. It was the North Africans, who started the game on a high note and they should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when they were awarded a free-kick from outside the box. Mohamed Magdy delivered the ball but a header from Mohamed Hany was pushed out by Simba goalkeeper Ally Salim.
Simba then responded with a chance of their own as Luis Miquissone combined with Chama, and the Zambian midfielder raced clear but before he could hold onto the ball, Al Ahly keeper Mohamed El Shenawy came out to meet and clear the danger and was injured in the process, needing attention from the medics before getting up to start the goal-kick.
South African striker Percy Tau then had a good chance to put Al Ahly ahead but he hit the ball over the bar after being put through by Mohamed Karim. In the 35th minute, Al Ahly thought they had won a penalty after a foul on Tau but after reviewing the incident with VAR, it was not given.
However, Al Ahly finally took the lead a minute before the half-time break when Mahmoud Kahraba delivered a defence-splitting pass that fell into the legs of Slim, and the Moroccan midfielder hit the ball low with his left foot past Salim for the first goal in the inaugural competition.
On resumption, Simba continued to search for the leveller and they were finally rewarded in the 54th minute when Kibu Dennis headed home a cross from Chama, leaving El Shenawy rooted to the ground. Six minutes later, it was 2-1 for the Tanzanian giants after a corner from Ntibazonkiza was powered into the net by Kanoute. But Simba could not hold onto the lead as Kahraba hit back with a beautifully taken effort inside ten minutes.
The return leg will be played in Cairo next week.
Simba SC starting XI: Ally Salim, Fabrice Ngoma, Ntibazonkiza Saidi, Luis Miquissone, Shomari Kapombe, Mohamed Hussein, Clatous Chama, Mzamiru Said, Junior Fondoh Che, Henock Baka and Kibu Dennis.
Al Ahly XI; Mohamed El Shenawy, Ramy Radia, Yasser Ibrahim, Mahmoud Kahraba, Percy Tau, Reda Slim, Aliou Dieng, Mohamed Magdy, Mohamed Hany, Karim Mohamed, and Ahmed Abdelaal.