TODAY is a critical day both for Zanzibar and Tanzania Mainland as their respective senior soccer teams, Zanzibar Heroes and Kilimanjaro Stars take on Harambee Stars and Sudan respectively in matches that would determine their fate, going forward.
Kilimanjaro Stars need a draw to the next round along with Kenya. But that would heavily depend on Zanzibar Heroes’ results against the best team in the group, Harambee Stars.
If Zanzibar Heroes who have to date secured only one point in as many matches in the group turn tables against Harambee Stars, who lead the group with six points,
then that would mark the end of Kilimanjaro Stars in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup tournament in Uganda. Therefore, for Kilimanjaro Stars to be assured of proceeding to the next round, they need to beat Sudan today as any result that is less than outright victory would be disastrous for them.
Kilimanjaro Stars who are second to Harambee Stars in the group after edging out Zanzibar Heroes by one goal, should have beaten Harambee Stars to whom they lost by one goal to nil if they had worked hard in that match. There is really no reason why such an experienced side lost to a youthful Kenyan team when Tanzania Mainland.
What I ask myself is where was the experience they had? I’m quite sure if the team’s Head Coach, Juma Mgunda had used the Mtibwa Sugar and Azam FC U-20 teams, Kilimanjaro Stars could have fared better. If Mgunda gets this opportunity next time, he needs to be more creative by going for youthful players who are in galore.
Mgunda needs to grow and he can only do that by being creative. He needs to stamp his authority in the game just like what his fellow coach, Matola has done. And, he can only do that by getting young players in his team, players who are extremely hungry for results. He cannot win matches through the use of old Taifa Stars players.
I was very much impressed by comments made by the Taifa Stars’ Head Coach, Etienne Ndayiragije, over the performance of Zanzibar Heroes players in the on-going CECAFA senior Challenge Cup. The Burundian said he was very much impressed by Zanzibar Heroes players, and in particular, their lanky centre forward, Kassim Khamis.
He said it was high time Taifa Stars had such tall, well-built strikers and from his comments, Khamis should expect invitation to play for Taifa Stars from the Burundian tactician. Taifa Stars need complete overhaul. There is absolutely no need of keeping players who have failed to deliver.
The Burundian coach need to get rid of dead woods in his team and he can only do that by watching many, different matches including the Ndondo Cup, which is usually held in Dar es Salaam every year. Of course, the ideal way of getting good players is through soccer academies.
But because we have short supply of players from soccer academies, our coaches need to look beyond the premier league. For instance, if you can get a U-17 talent in the Ndondo Cup, there is still chance to mould such boy into a great player in the same way Leicester City got their leading striker, Jamie Vardy.
Our coaches need to be more creative. They need to spend their time watching matches that involve players below 17 and they would be amazed by the immense talent that this country has in soccer!
In fact, if our local coaches were really serious in developing the game in this country, there is plenty of talent that just needs a good coach to mould it to a top class player. The problem is when you get a player who is already 20.
You cannot do anything about such a player. But there is a lot that a coach worth his name can do to a player who is between 14 and 17.
I saw such players in Kisumu, Kenya in 1967 when former Kenyan international, Peter Oronge, collected players of such age group from schools in the lake side town and ‘chiseled’ them, in less than a year, into one of the most exciting and feared soccer clubs in the region.
Peter Oronge’s team would come to be known as Kisumu Hotstars and hot the players were. The team which was later joined by a respected Tanzanian international from Mwanza, Abeid, went on to provide seven players for Harambee Stars.
If our local coaches want respect both from the fans and the Tanzania Football Federation, they need to start getting such young talents and chiseling them into stars. Our premier league soccer clubs and the TFF recruit foreign coaches because our local coaches have failed to deliver in a country where there is galore material for producing world class players.
Both premier league soccer clubs and the TFF are hungry for results and that is why they have, for years now, been recruiting foreign coaches. And instead of complaining why foreign rather than local coaches are being sought after, our local coaches need to prove, practically, why they are better than foreign coaches.
And they can do that by getting and moulding these young talents that are literally everywhere, and in particular, in schools.
• Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/ author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through email@example.com