Football is back! And after a one-year COVID-19 absence, it has brought Simba FC with it.
Simba FC merged 2-1 winners in the opening match of the 2020/21 Embu County League season played at Embu Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Siakago based side edged out the town side to announce their intent early enough on a day that was filled with fanfare.
After almost a year without competitive football- get lost, Covid!- the return of the game was a matter of celebration. The action began with a procession from the Governor’s office to the stadium. This was led by the newly-elected FKF branch office that is spearheaded by Chairman Charles Njoka. County Chief Officer of Sports Mr. Samuel Wachira also graced the occasion.
With the niceties out of the way, action proper on the pitch kicked off at 3:25 pm. The weather was kind; not too much sun, slow winds, and just the right feel. If these conditions gave any indications of a laid-back match, Simba FC fans did not. In scenes that mirrored those of Simba SC Tanzania, they arrived in their hundreds with evidently rehearsed dances and chants. The vuvuzela-wielding lot brought to life the air of competition.
Dennis Kariuki took charge of the match at the center of the pitch, assisted by Peterson Ouro and Chris Mukundi and commissioned by Hesketh Njuki. All knew that they had their work cut out to satisfy a highly charged, eagle-eyed crowd.
Simba showed from early on why they have such a huge and loyal following. They camped in their opponents’ half right from kick-off. In all ways, they appeared to have surprised Triumph.
The early dominance paid off fast enough. Within two minutes, Captain Eli Munene received a sweet pass on the left flank and made dangerous step-overs in abid to get into the box. For his efforts, he earned a foul right at the edge. An equally sweet cross was headed in by Abdul Njeru to put the newcomers ahead just three minutes in. This drew wild celebrations from the side and their fans who appeared to have gotten a boost on their already bursting energy.
Against Run of Play
Football is a funny game. Despite the early dominance, Simba found themselves needing to answer a Triumph knock at their door soon after. In just the 12th minute, they needed to show how good they are at defending from the spot. Victor Ndwiga was not having that nonsense, however. He confidently stepped up to tuck the ball into the top right and draw the Children of God level. 1-1.
That was not to last long. Just three minutes laterTriuTriT, Simba earned a penalty of their own after a poor clearance was handled in the Triumph box. This time, Eli himself stepped up to send John Njeru the wrong way and put the church side on the back foot once again. Things remained that way until the break.
The game pretty much evened out in the second half. Triumph seemingly understood their opponents’ strategy and resorted to long balls and sweeping their area at every available opportunity. Although this did not show any creation on their side, it effectively shielded them from the Lions’ attacks.
The major incident in the second half was a second-half scuffle. Triumph keeper John Njeru recklessly fouled a Simba attacker even after collecting the ball with ease. Center referee ‘Mdenno’ did not hesitate to give him his marching orders.
Simba tucked the resultant penalty in by sending newly-introduced goalkeeper Joel scuffling. The goal was however disallowed as they infringed the area in the run-up.
Nothing much to write about the rest of the game really. Besides a great interest in the goalkeeping tactics of the heavily built Joel in the Triumph goal, the game evened out with both sets of players appearing to lose their legs. Joel is an outfield player but confidently fills the Triumph goal when the need arises.
2-1 at full time. A worthy match for the opener and a bold announcement of Simba’s arrival.
The rest of the teams in the County League kick off their action this weekend; Sunday 28th February. The League is divided into two zones of 12 teams each. Sub-County Leagues in the five regions will also begin on the same date. Keep it here for the full fixtures of all these matches.
Football is back, whoop!