Pitso Mosimane (Getty Images)
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane rejected Luis Miquissone three years ago and the decision came back to haunt him Tuesday as a brilliant goal by the Mozambican gave Simba an upset 1-0 CAF Champions League victory.
Miquissone moved left, then right on the edge of the ‘D’ before unleashing a thunderbolt that flew over Ahly captain and goalkeeper Mohamed el Shenawy into the net on 31 minutes.
Tanzania have permitted spectators at football matches throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the estimated 30,000 crowd at the national stadium in Dar es Salaam rose to cheer a worthy match-winner.
Miquissone joined Mamelodi Sundowns in 2018 when Mosimane was coach of the Pretoria outfit but failed to impress and was loaned to South African and Mozambican clubs before joining Simba last year.
He is part of a multi-national Simba line-up, with five Tanzanians and one player each from the DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia starting against Egyptian and African giants Ahly.
Mosimane made history last September when he became the first sub-Saharan African to coach Ahly since the club was formed in 1907, and the loss to Simba was only his second since taking charge.
The victory for Simba, coupled with V Club of DR Congo crushing Al Merrikh of Sudan 4-1 in Omdurman, has turned Group A into a three-club melting pot after just two matchdays.
Simba lead with six points, V Club and title-holders Ahly have three each and pointless Merrikh appear out of contention for a top-two finish and a quarter-finals place after successive three-goal losses.
The form of the Tanzanian champions in Africa this season — four wins and a draw in six matches — has made them the surprise side of a competition.
In nine previous attempts to reach the group stage, they succeeded only twice, and last year suffered an embarrassing preliminary round defeat by Songo of Mozambique.
A change of coaches in the middle of this CAF campaign — Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck moved to FAR Rabat of Morocco and was replaced by Frenchman Didier Gomes da Rosa — has not disrupted the team.
Simba travel to Merrikh next, then host the Sudanese side and V Club before the ultimate test of their title credentials on April 9 or 10, away to Ahly in Cairo.
In Omdurman, V Club spectacularly recovered from a shock home loss to Simba, and falling behind to Merrikh after eight minutes, thanks to goals from Obed Mukokiani (two), Djuma Shabani and Amede Masasi.
Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, who have been champions, runners-up, and semi-finalists twice in the past five seasons, belatedly began their Group C campaign with a 1-0 win at Petro Luanda of Angola.
Ayoub el Kaabi had a penalty saved before scoring the only goal on 71 minutes after a superb pass from Libyan Muaid Ellafi.
Petro veteran Ricardo ‘Job’ Estevao squandered a chance to equalise soon after, blazing a penalty over the crossbar, which left his club pointless after two rounds.
In the same section, the group-stage debut of famed South African club Kaizer Chiefs proved an anti-climax as they were held 0-0 by Horoya of Guinea in Soweto.
Four-time champions Esperance of Tunisia stayed top of Group D thanks to an Abderraouf Benguit equaliser in a 1-1 away draw with Mouloudia Alger.