Three things to look out for in the Tanzania Kariakoo derby

Simba and Young Africans, the two most successful clubs in Tanzania, meet again this Sunday in the semi-final of the FA Cup. Simba are seeking to complete a league and cup double – and a win for them would mean a trophyless season for their rivals. Here are three things to look out for.

The eventful Bernard Morrison

Big clubs like to remind us all that no one is bigger than the club but some people believe Morrison has shown he is bigger than Young Africans.

It is fair to say Ghanaian has had an eventful few weeks for people to come to that conclusion.

The issue at hand has been Morrison’s claims that he’s free to leave the club come the end of the season while his club maintained he has a contract with them until 2022. He has not been shy in pursuing his claim, taking his accusations to the Tanzania Football Federation and speaking to the media. He was fined for doing the latter several times without the club’s permission. Unexplained absences from training and games, and an exchange with a security guard at the team’s camp where he allegedly pulled out a sharp object, have made it clear there are issues that urgently need to be resolved.

For the moment at least Young Africans have finally managed to get him training and on the pitch, and when you can do that – which is easier said than done – he’s an entertainer and a match-winner. He marked his late arrival in the away game versus Kagera Sugar by scoring the late winner. Yanga fans will be hoping for the same sort of match-winning contribution – that he also showed in the last derby meeting – this Sunday.

The battle for midfield dominance

A midfield that left Jonas Mkude with a lot to do in the late derby shouldn’t be overrun this time around. The Brazilian midfielder Gerson Fraga has added a more reliable tactical side to the midfield since, giving license to Simba’s attacking midfielders and more protection to the defence.

It may at least mean more control in midfield but the aim should be providing protection for a defence that does not deal well when exposed. For example, the goalkeeper Aishi Manula isn’t the most reliable shot-stopper so they would be wise in limiting the efforts from distance.

Young Africans’ derby specialist Papy Tshishimbi has always relished these occasions but looks set to miss out this time due to injury. The green and yellow side will desperately miss his tenacity not just in midfield but in the manner he appears to be everywhere.

That prospect alone will give Simba hope – not to mention the injury concerns over the experienced Haruna Niyonzima. Yanga will still have enough to make this an intriguing midfield battle with the ball-carrying of Mapinduzi Balama and guile of Feisal Salum bringing a different dimension to this contest.

The resurgent, in-form men of the moment

A change in formation for Simba has allowed room for only one striker, and that man since the restart has been the captain John Bocco. The gentle giant has demonstrated the form which has made him one of Tanzania’s great strikers, keeping out the league’s top scorer Meddie Kagere, scoring four goals in five starts since the resumption.

Centre forward has been a problem position for Young Africans this season with all the available strikers failing to hold it down. David Molinga ‘Falcao’ has been the club’s top scorer throughout but, though the numbers work in his favour, doubts over his fitness and quality have persisted until recently.

The Congolese striker has been a figure of fun since his debut in a pre-season match when, after a Cristiano Ronaldo style run up, he took a free kick that is still touring the skies of Tanzania if not other parts of the world. He has cemented his place as the primary striker since the restart with key contributions each week, clearly demonstrating his ability as a target man.

The boo boys and girls are now celebrating him. Any kind of exploits on Sunday would complete a remarkable turnaround.

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