For the first time since football fans were barred from stadiums worldwide, Tanzania giants Simba SC will play a home game in an empty Benjamin Mkapa Stadium when they host Al Merrikh on Tuesday.
The development follows a directive by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) on Saturday. The decision is part of Caf’s efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Simba spokesperson Haji Manara revealed that their efforts to persuade Caf to allow them to have fans attend the match were denied.
“We received a notice ordering that our match at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium against Al Merrikh should be played without fans. So sadly I would like to announce that our match against Al Merrikh will be played without fans. It should be noted that this is not a punishment but a decision that has been made by Caf,” said Manara.
“Simba are used to playing matches without fans. We have done it in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, DR Congo and even the other day in Sudan and we have done well. Fans should not feel letdown. We continue to make efforts to play the next matches with the fans.”
Ever since the resumption of sporting activities, Tanzania has not restricted fans from attending games at stadiums just like the case has been in most African countries.
The Msimbazi giants secured a 0-0 draw against the Sudanese outfit in their first meeting at Al-Hilal Stadium in Khartoum a week ago and a win for the Tanzanian champions will guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals for the first time in the club’s history.
Simba are currently leading Group A on seven points having won their first two 1-0, against AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Al Ahly of Egypt, before the stalemate against Al Merrikh in Sudan.
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By Mthokozisi Dube