EMMANUEL Okwi’s stoppage time goal helped Simba reclaim helm on superior goal average after a 1-1 draw with Mtibwa Sugar at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The goal, besides helping his club, also puts Okwi far ahead in the chase for a golden boot with seven goals in his kit from six league matches.
Yesterday draw in Dar es Salaam also placed three teams at the pilot seat; Simba, Young Africans and Mtibwa Sugar tied on 12-points gain, but the superior goal continued to help Simba in the title race. Simba now lead with 15 goals while conceding 4 goals to make them slight above their pursuers with +11 Goal difference (GD).
Also notched 12 points are Yanga who defeated Kagera Sugar 2-1 on Saturday and Mtibwa after their draw with Simba, have tied on +3 goal difference after playing six matches, but alphabetical advantage puts Mtibwa at the second place.
Simba as usual began the match on high foot as they wanted to get an early goal and disorganise the visitors, but Mtibwa were alert at their back line as they could not allow Emmanuel Okwi to demonstrate his skills at their defence.
With series of goal searching trials, Haruna Niyonzima won a free kick at the edge of the penalty box in 22nd minute, but his shot was easily cleared away by the visitor’s defence.
The sugarcane growers, who mostly employed defensive tactics, relied on flanks as a way to penetrate through Simba’s rear department even though much of their final balls could not reach the intended target.
Again, the away team keeper Benedict Tinocco showcased his breath-taking skills between the posts to make sure that the opening half end without letting the ball behind his back.
However, it was the visitors who got the opener in 35th minute through Stamili Mbonde’s free header that left Simba keeper Aishi Manula with no other option other than letting it go. The goal came from Issa Rashid corner kick.
Haruna Niyonzima could have leveled the lead shortly before the end of the first half after winning a free kick, but his well curled shot went a few inches away from the goal mouth. As the referee blew his whistle to mark the end of the first half, the visitors were the ones who went in the dressing room with broad smiles.
The resumption saw Simba coming back rejuvenated, seeking to turn upside down the lead, but most of their chances were comfortably cleared by either Mtibwa Sugar goalkeeper or his defenders.
Simba head coach Joseph Omog was forced to make unplanned substitution just a minute into the second half as Salum Mbonde was stretched out after picking an injury and his position was taken by Ugandan Juuko Murshid.
Okwi had a good strike in 52nd minute which could have yielded into an equalizer, but his bullet-like shot went a few centimetres off target. At this juncture, time was running out for the hosts to take something from the hostile match.
In 64th minute, Shiza Kichuya was rested for Said Ndemla, whose presence seemed to bring new life to the team’s midfield section. They began to push more men upfront in a search for a goal, most of their efforts failed to bring the desired goal.
The magic moment for Simba came deep in the stoppage time the hosts were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box.
The Ugandan international, Emmanuel Okwi did not hesitate to strike the ball far wide into the net to rescue his own ship from drowning.
At Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya, the hosts Tanzania Prisons were held by Stand United to a barren draw in a tense encounter. It was the seventh draw of the sixth round.