Friday Apr 21, 2023. 13:00
Simba are sweating on the fitness of two key players ahead of their CAF Champions League quarter-final, first-leg clash with Wydad Casablanca at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Msimbazi Reds reached the last eight of Africa’s elite club competition for only the third time in their history when they finished runners-up to Raja Casablanca in Group C.
Robertinho’s side secured their passage to the knockout stages with a 7-0 drubbing of Horoya in Dar es Salaam on matchday 5, which was their third consecutive win in the group stages.
The Tanzanian giants have been solid at home in Africa this season, winning five of their six games in the capital, with the only blip coming on matchday 2 when they lost 3-0 to Raja Casablanca.
However, there are concerns over the fitness of goalkeeper Aishi Manula and midfielder Sadio Kanoute after they missed the 2-0 victory over Young Africans in the Tanzanian Premier League last Sunday.
Manula has been an ever-present in the 2022-23 CAF Champions League but sustained an injury against Ihefu in the Federation Cup quarter-finals, sidelining him for the last two matches.
Kanoute’s last appearance came against Horoya on March 18 and Simba Information and Communications Manager Amed Ally confirmed he is nursing a hip injury.
“Regarding the team update, Kanoute is suffering from hip pain and today he will arrive at the camp to meet the doctors,” Ally said earlier this week.
“If he is fine, he will start training. Similarly, Aishi Manula will meet with the doctors to check his condition.”
The Red Castle are the defending champions after they beat Al Ahly 2-0 in the 2021-22 final to lift the coveted trophy for the third time.
Wydad topped Group A by three points ahead of JS Kabylie to advance to the knockout stages for the eighth year running, having lost just one of their six matches.
Juan Carlos Garrido’s team are unbeaten in their last 13 games across all competitions since going down 1-0 to JSK on matchday 2 in the group stages, although their away form on the continent hasn’t been great after winning just once on their travels.
The two clubs have met just once before, way back in 2011 when Wydad emerged 3-0 victors in the Champions League playoffs as they went on to reach the final.