Kariakoo may be a tiny ward in the Ilala District of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania but the derby named after it divides families, it separates a nation and easily cuts across tribe.
Known primarily for its extensive market that spans several city blocks, Kariakoo has a population of just under 10 000.
But on a day like today when two Kariakoo giants clash in a potentially explosive derby – the entire East African country comes to a standstill.
Forget the Kenya derby between AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia that has been reduced to a one-team show as K’Ogalo (Gor Mahia) have had an upper hand for way too long, the Kariakoo derby is the mother of all derbies in East Africa.
A walk across the market by the FARPost crew proves just how big the derby is. Every fifth person is either clad in a Simba SC jersey or that of Young Africans.
Countless people shout the name of their beloved team in anticipation of a victory.
“Simba and Yanga divide the country into two. It divides families, it’s almost similar to the Soweto derby,” Michael Mwebe, a Dar es Salaam-based football consultant, tells FARPost.
Interestingly, the name Kariakoo derives from a corruption of the British “Carrier Corps”, that used to be based in this area.
“The two teams were involved in the fight for independence,” Mwebe adds.
As the two giants lock horns in the ongoing Vodacom Mainland Premier League at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium at 5pm (4pm South African time), there is a lot at stake.
“For the first time Yanga are ahead of Simba, who have won the last three titles and they feel like this is their time to reclaim the title,” he says.
In July, Yanga succumbed to a 4-1 drubbing in the Tanzania Football Federation Cup, the equivalent of England’s FA Cup, in July.
“It was the biggest derby defeat since 2012,” he adds.
And then you obviously have the bragging rights that whoever wins will have the privilege to boast about superiority for the next two weeks or so.
Records show that the two teams have met 105 times with Yanga winning 37 matches, Simba 32 and 36 draws.
Last season, the teams drew 2-2 in the first leg before Yanga won 1-0 in the second leg.
Yanga head coach Cedric Kaze said they have prepared well for the match.
Kaze is well aware that a win against Simba will put his side in good stead to take over top position. Azam FC are presently at the apex with 25 points from 10 matches.
“It is going to be a fine gauge of Yanga’s new players as we have trained well. Our focus is on making our fans happy.
“I trust my players, who have international exposure and who know what a derby really means. We are aware that Simba are strong, but we have taken all necessary precautions,” said Kaze.
Yanga captain, Lamine Moro, said they are ready for the duel, calling upon all the team’s fans to attend the encounter and give them support.
“We are in good shape for the match as it is still fresh in our minds about how we disappointed our members and fans when we lost 4-1 in the Azam Federation Cup. So, now we want to take revenge,” said Moro.
Simba head coach Sven Vandenbroeck said his players are aware of the importance of the match. “It is going to be a tough match, but we have prepared well,” the Belgian mentor said.
Simba could be without maverick midfielder Clatous Chama, who sustained injury, as well as the team’s top scorer, Meddie Kagere. The responsibility therefore lies on the shoulders of Simba captain John Bocco.
“Our task is to make sure we win the match and continue to chase the top seat,” said Bocco.
By Mthokozisi Dube
reporting from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania