Johannesburg (AFP) – Simba Sports Club have been crowned champions of Tanzania, the first nation in Africa to restart their league after a three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Like every Africa country except Burundi, who continued playing while COVID-19 spread, Tanzania suspended football in mid-March to combat the deadly virus.
Simba held a commanding 17-point lead when the championship resumed this month and sealed a third consecutive title despite being held 0-0 at home by mid-table Prisons.
The point took the Dar es Salaam outfit to 79 points, 19 more than greatest rivals Young Africans with six rounds remaining.
Simba and Dar es Salaam neighbours Young Africans have dominated Tanzanian football during the past decade, winning nine of the 10 title races.
But neither side has made an impact in the CAF Champions League with Simba suffering a shock preliminary round defeat by UD Songo of Mozambique last season.
Both clubs have Belgian coaches with Sven Vandenbroeck in charge of Simba while Luc Eymael recently joined Young Africans.
Vandenbroeck assisted Cameroon head coach and compatriot Hugo Broos when the ‘Indomitable Lions’ surprisingly won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
But he struggled after being named coach of Zambia, lasting only eight months before being ditched when the former champions failed to qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations.
Eymael first coached in Africa 10 years ago, at V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has also worked in Gabon, Algeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, Sudan, South Africa and Egypt.