Simba SC gallantly exited the Caf Champions League at the quarter-final stage despite beating Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the return leg of their quarter-final at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium on Saturday.
The Msimbazi giants scored one goal in the first half courtesy of captain John Bocco before the Taifa Stars striker made it 2-0 in the opening minutes of the second half and Clatous Chama added the third with six minutes to go, but the win was not enough to earn them passage to the semi-finals as Chiefs qualified with a 4-3 aggregate win.
Needing to score at least four goals to reach the last four, Simba coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa made two changes to the side that played in the first leg where they lost 4-0, with Mzamiru Yassin coming in for Jonas Mkude while Bocco started in place of Larry Bwalya.
On the other hand, Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt kept the same squad that did duty in the first leg, even sticking with goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, who kept a clean sheet in the first leg meeting at FNB Stadium, despite experienced Itumeleng Khune travelling with Amakhosi to Tanzania after recovering from injury and ending his suspension.
It was Simba who started the game forcefully and they tried to use their right and left wings, where Shomari Kapombe and Luis Miquissone did well to deliver crosses that did not trouble keeper Bvuma.
In the third minute, Muzamiru got a good chance to score from open play but his shot went wide and in the fourth minute Simba got a corner kick which was delivered by Chama, but it was easily picked out by Bvuma.
The Msimbazi giants continued to threaten and Miquissone saw his effort hiss over the bar in the seventh minute after receiving a through-ball from Mohamed Hussein, and Chiefs then had an attack of their own but Bernard Parker’s left-footed effort went off target.
Chiefs started to grow in confidence and Parker once again set up Lebogang Manyama from their third corner kick but his glancing header did not trouble keeper Aishi Manula as it went over the bar.
Chiefs striker Samir Nurkovic, who scored a double during the first leg, was the first to go into Burundian referee Pacifique Ndabihaweniman’s book in the 15th minute after throwing words at him and a minute later Taddeo Lwanga of Simba was also booked after a bad tackle on Manyama.
Simba then took the lead in the 23rd minute after a through-ball from Chama was met by Kapombe, who in turn laid it to Bocco, and the towering striker unleashed a right-footed effort which sneaked past Bvuma’s legs into the net.
Immediately after the goal, Bvuma came to Chiefs' rescue with a point-blank save after Bocco had been set through by Kapombe, though the striker had an option to set up Chris Mugalu, who was unmarked, but he opted to shoot.
Simba then made their first substitution in the 28th minute after Mzamiru pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Bernard Morrison, and a minute later, they suffered a huge blow as two of their key players – Lwanga and Joash Onyango - collided while going for an aerial ball and they were both substituted, with Erasto Nyoni and Kennedy Juma replacing them.
In the 37th minute, Simba had shouts for a penalty turned down by the Burundian referee after Bocco’s effort looked to have hit the outstretched arm of Daniel Cardoso, as the teams headed into the half-time break with the scores standing at 1-0 on the day.
After the resumption, Simba knew they still need three goals to stay in the tie, and they went 2-0 up in the 55th minute when Miquissone danced through Chiefs' defence from the left wing before delivering a low cross which Bocco slotted home after taking a deflection off a Chiefs defender.
Simba continued to attack, urged on by the 10, 000 fans in the stands, and Morrison should have added the third in the 61st minute but his weak effort went straight to Bvuma, and immediately Chiefs started their own attack, their first in the second half, but Njabulo Blom tried to lift the ball past Manula and it went narrowly over the bar.
Simba then kept their hopes alive in the 84th minute after Chama danced through the Chiefs defence before placing the ball past Bvuma for the third goal, prompting a nervy ending to the fixture, although ultimately no further goals were scored.
Despite winning 3-0 on the day, the damage was done in Johannesburg during the first leg but Simba will take pride in finishing the competition without losing a single match at Mkapa Stadium, while Chiefs have made history by reaching their first-ever semi-final.
Simba SC Starting XI: Aishi Manula, Shomari Kapombe, Mohamed Hussein, Joash Onyango, Pascal Wawa, Taddeo Lwanga, Clatous Chama, Mzamiru Yassin, John Bocco, Chris Mugalu and Luis Miquissone.
Subs: Beno Kakolanya (GK), Erasto Nyoni, Kennedy Juma, Said Ndemla, Bernard Morrison, Athumani Miraji, Gadiel Michael, Meddie Kagere, Larry Bwalya and Francis Kahata.
Kaizer Chiefs Starting XI: Bruce Bvuma, Daniel Cardoso, Siyabonga Ngezana, Erick Mathoho, Philani Zulu, Reeve Frosler, Njabulo Blom, Lebogang Manyama, Bernard Parker, Leonardo Castro, and Samir Nurković.
Subs: Akpeyi, Mphahlele, Agay, Baccus, Kambole, Katsande, Ngcobo, Mashiane, Sasman.