The Belgian tactician admits they will not have an easy ride against the promoted side when the season kicks-off on Sunday
Simba SC coach Sven Vandenbroeck has revealed he is expecting a tough game when they battle Ihefu FC on Sunday.
The Wekundu wa Msimbazi will open their title defence in the Mainland Premier League against the promoted side in a match set for Sokoine Stadium.
The Belgian, who was in charge last season when Simba won the league title and the FA Cup to seal a treble, has now admitted it will not be an easy game and has warned his players not to underrate the promoted side.
“I know very well how opening matches are tough, so there will be no difference against our opponents, who are new in the league,” Vandenbroeck told reporters after their final training session on Saturday.
“The first league match is always tough because every team is keen to get off to a good start, and you know all teams in the league will also want to play well and win against Simba because they are the champions so it will be a difficult game.
“We have prepared well for the last few days since our win in the Community Shield and all the players are fit to take the battle, apart from those who remained in Dar es Salaam because of various reasons, we are ready to play.”
On playing against a promoted side in the opening fixture, Vandenbroeck said: “It is no big difference because they are also coming to show why they got promoted so they will try to prove to us they deserve to be in the league and that is why I have asked my players against underrating them.”
Simba SC will, however, have to do without three key players – defender Pascal Wawa, winger Luis Miquissone, and striker Chris Mugalu – who have been ruled out owing to various reasons.
According to Vandenbroeck, new signing Mugalu had travelled back home to Zambia to sort out family issues and though he has returned to Dar es Salaam, he will not be ready for the match while Wawa and Miquissone have fitness issues.
“[Mugalu] requested to visit his native home and sort out some family issues and we gave him permission, he has already returned to Dar es Salaam but I will not have him in the squad for the league opener, I want him to have enough rest for the next match,” Vandenbroeck told Goal on Friday.
“Pascal [Wawa] and Miquissone were left in Dar es Salaam with our fitness coach, they are not fit and ready and so they are all working hard to come back into the squad, we will check them again when we return to Dar es Salaam.”
Mugalu is among the new players who were signed by Simba in the just-concluded transfer window with the others being Joash Onyango from Kenya’s Gor Mahia, Bernard Morrison from Yanga, Charles Ilamfia from KMC, David Kameta from Lipuli FC, and Ibrahim Ame from Coastal Union.
Opening fixtures; Namungo vs Coastal – Majaliwa, Lindi, Biashara vs Gwambina – Karume, Mara, Ihefu vs Simba – Sokoine, Mbeya, Mtibwa vs Ruvu Shooting – Gairo, Morogoro, Yanga vs Prisons – Mkapa, Dar, KMC vs Mbeya City – Uhuru, Dar and Azam vs Polisi Tanzania – Azam Complex.