Simba SC will have to do without the trio of John Bocco, Erasto Nyoni and new acquisition Perfect Chikwende when they take on DR Congo’s AS Vita Club in the opening group stage African Champions League encounter.
The Tanzania champions left Dar es Salaam on Tuesday ahead of the all-important tie set for Saturday at the 125, 000-capacity Stade des Martyrs.
Club captain Bocco, who was last seen when Simba played FC Platinum of Zimbabwe earlier this month, is out injured together with Nyoni.
The Taifa Stars forward was on target in that match against the platinum miners. Chikwende, who joined the club from the Zimbabwe champions is cup-tied, making him ineligible to feature for his new club in the Champions League.
“The squad left on (Tuesday), and all non-injured players travelled with the team except Bocco and Erasto who are yet to fully recover,” said the club’s board member Mulamu Nghambi.
He, however, added that they are well prepared for the tie. Simba have made it clear their goal is to qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
After Saturday’s match, Simba will return to Champions League action against Egypt’s Al Ahly on February 23 at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar and later play Sudan’s El Mereikh in Khartoum between March 5 and 6.
Simba will then host El Merreikh on March 16 at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam before welcoming AS Vita Club between April 2 and 3 to the same venue.
The Tanzania giants will conclude their engagement in the group stage with a date against defending champions Al Ahly between April 9 and 10 in Cairo. The top two teams in the group will qualify for the knockout stage of the competition featuring eight teams.
Meanwhile, Simba’s budding defender David Kameta will also miss the match, as he is part of the National Under 20 team Ngorongoro Heroes that will represent the country at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in Mauritania.
The tournament runs from 14 February to 4 March.
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By Mthokozisi Dube