APPRAISING standard of soccer, of the first match of every team, displayed in South Africa by the African teams competing in the current AFCON tournament , I have come up with two or three observations. First, save for Tunisia and Algeria which played the European soccer except for lack of great energy, the rest were of the same standard as ours and may be defeated by our Taifa Stars. Secondly, I have noted that most of our African players who took part in the those first matches are extremely lazy. Related to this, I was surprised to see the very same players playing differently when they play with wazungu ( the white people) in their European Clubs!
It is highly nauseating to see an African national player, playing in Africa, in the African big tournament, to give up running few metres from him for a ball passed to him a bit stronger ! This is not the case at all in European leagues in which the same African players are featured.There, they run and sometimes they succeed in getting balls even if passes of that kinds are stronger than the ones I have seen ignored in our continental competition!
Level of soccer displayed by the hosts, South Africa, which was comparatively lower than that of the underdogs Cape Verde in the match between the two teams, indicated beyond any doubt that if they played against us we might defeat them as we did to Cape Verde in their country some three years ago. This reminiscence of positive away result should not conclusively be construed that we shall defeat them today. That is due to the fact that between the time when we defeated them at their home and now, they may have made remarkable progress while we may have made some retrogress due to being imbued with Yanga and Simba. All in all, the standard of soccer of those two teams, on that day, was the same as ours.
Considering the fact that our soccer standard is not different from that of South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco, Angola, Zambia, DR Congo, Nigeria, Algeria,Ghana, Mali,Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Togo what has made us stumble? Is there any team among those which we have not played against, friendly or in competititon? If there are, those teams are very few from that list. In those matches, did we not win some of them? In the matches we did not win or get draw, were we defeated by large margin? So, where did we stumble?
In my opinion, what makes us lag behind in soccer is lack of common target. We only know where we came from but we do not know where we are and where we are going to! Everything is in shambles! Take an example of what contestants of the coming TFF general election say as to their intentions to contest. This one may talk about soccer academy. That one may talk about curbing poor referiing and that one may talk about enabling our national team to play the coming AFCON finals and another may talk about stopping conlicts in Yanga and Simba and so many other mumbo jumbos! In situation like this, what kind of leadership will we expect to get especially when those people contest at different positions in the same organization to build one team of leadership?
Worse still, in our mindsets, we take much of Tanzania soccer to be Yanga and Simba. People vie for leadership in TFF mostly for seeing to it that either Yanga or Simba, depending on which club the contestant supports, snatches championship continuously. So, we are tied like that while others take soccer as all pieces of development plans of the game though all have their “Yanga and Simba” of their own. Those countries plan scientifically development of their soccer even by using consultancy. I am sure within few years, Seychelles and Comoro will play in AFCON finals while we will be cheering local championship of Yanga or Simba! Local success of Yanga and Simba is to us everything in development of our soccer! Absurd.
Another thing which impedes us in soccer development is home sickness our players suffer. Our players hardly play abroad in highly competitive leagues except Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu who play for TP Mazembe of DR Congo. If you see Tanzanian player playing abroad, you should know that that player is approaching to an end of his career, he searched a team abroad on his own, he plays for very small team and he is paid little money. Those who are hot cakes, like Mrisho Ngassa, do not like to play professionally abroad. So, we lack international experience in our national team for lacking experienced players of that sort.
If we want to play in the AFCON finals many times like Angola, who in fact are not better than us and who have even played in the World Cup finals in 2006 in Germany, what we are supposed to do is to make a remarkable change of our plans by overhauling all childish sentiments like Yangaism and Simbaism. We must think our soccer out of our two big clubs and think of developing it from infancy, encouraging our players to start thinking of playing professional soccer in some big leagues abroad. All these and others will be made possible if we have common soccer development policy to be implemented successively by every team of leadership at different given times.
For the last 20 years I have been working as a football pundit. This experience has provided me with a very useful insight into football and the opportunity to carry out extensive research into the game including its players, the stadiums, the rules and tactics and I have also been grateful to meet a wide range of people connected to football in the UK, Tanzania, Germany .....