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Coach Sven Vandenbroeck has confirmed the absence of two key players as they get ready for the first-ever meeting with the home team

Simba SC have confirmed their two key players will not be ready to face FC Platinum in the Caf Champions League on Wednesday.

The Tanzanian champions will meet the Platinum Miners from Zimbabwe for the first time in history at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

However, coach Sven Vandenbroeck has confirmed the news that both keeper Aishi Manula and captain John Bocco have failed late fitness tests and will thus not be available for selection.

“We have a few hours before the game, but it comes with bad news because we’ve tried everything to get Aishi [Manula] and John [Bocco] ready for the game but it’s going to be hard to be ready,” Vandenbroeck told the club’s social media pages.

“[Bocco] is still in bed he’s not feeling okay, [Manula] was hurt during our last league game against KMC FC and will take a week or more to be okay. So far there is 50 percent possibility of being in the game.”

Simba travelled to Zimbabwe with a contingent of 24 players and Vandenbroeck is confident he will get replacements for the players during the first leg of their second preliminary round fixture.

“at this point, I will have to use the available players, it is the reason we have a squad of 24 players here, and I know those who will come in, will step up well and do the job that we want,” Vandenbroeck continued.

In the absence of Manula, the Belgian coach will start Ben Kakolanya between the posts while Rwanda striker Meddie Kagere will step in for Bocco.

Kagere, who scored the only goal against KMC from the penalty spot before the team left for Harare, has often been used as a substitute and he will have the chance to show what he can offer against Platinum with a starting berth.

In a previous interview, Simba CEO Barbara Gonzalez explained they stand a good chance of beating FC Platinum because of their match fitness.

Gonzalez feels Simba have the edge because they have been active on the football scene for a longer period than their opponents, who suspended their leagues owing to the Covid-19 pandemic that affected many countries globally.

She also pointed out another advantage to Simba is their rivals will be playing at a new ground, despite being the home team, saying this will help the Wekundu wa Msimbazi as they will not have their home supporters.

“This is an advantage for us,” Gonzalez said as quoted by Daily News. “They are not residing in Harare, their home city’s weather is as hot as Dar es Salaam.

“They are, therefore, acclimatising with the cold weather here in Harare like the same we do here.”

On Simba’s preparations since arriving in Harare for the match, Gonzalez said: “The entire squad comprising of 24 players and technical bench members plus other leaders of the club are all well looking forward to the game.

“We had a good reception made by our Tanzanian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Emmanuel Mbenna, Zimbabwean Football Federation, and Platinum officials.

“What we request at this juncture from our members and fans wherever they are, including all Tanzanians is to pray for their team, to win so that we can have an advantage while heading to the reverse game at home.

Last season, Simba failed to make it past the preliminary stage after losing on the away goal rule to UD Songo of Mozambique.

The two sides had battled to a 0-0 draw in Mozambique, and in the return leg played in Dar es Salaam, it ultimately ended 1-1, meaning Songo advanced on the away goal rule.

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December 22, 2020