Food for thought for Young Africans, Azam FC


My last sport column on Wednesday this week, I dwelt at length over why our representatives in this season’s continental clubs tournaments, Young Africans and Azam FC, respectively required to take a critical look at the kind of players they were recruiting.

I deliberately raised the team building question, following the two clubs’ ignominious failure in their respective continental clubs tournaments.

As we can all recall, both teams were knocked out of the Champions League and the Confederation Cup respectively.

But while Young Africans continue in the run, but this time in a lesser tournament, the Confederation Cup, Azam FC are out for good on account of being knocked out in a lesser tourney.

Personally, I strongly believe that one of the reasons both clubs were knocked out of their respective continental clubs tournaments was because of the nature of players they both have.

Yes, the players both clubs have do not have what it takes to take part in such grueling soccer tournaments, much as they may be doing well locally, in the Vodacom Premier League.

If you go through the list of foreign players in both teams, you will discover that most of them are either out of their respective national soccer teams or are bench warmers when their teams are involved in international assignments.

Interestingly, even the few players who are still playing for their national soccer teams where they came from are turning out for teams that have very low soccer profile in the continent.

Now you cannot do well in continental clubs tournaments with a squad that is full of former national players!

And if you go through the list of locally recruited players, then you will discover that most of them never went through a scientifically established and well run soccer academy.

But this is not to say this country does not have well established and scientifically run soccer academies, far from it. We have a couple of such academies.

But some of our big clubs don’t seem to have interest in such players for reasons best known to them.

Because of the foregoing teething factors, both Young Africans and Azam FC have, for five years, in a row failed to reach the quarter final of the continental clubs tournaments.

It’s important to note that in the present day fast, cracking soccer, a club cannot do well internationally if recruitment of its players is suspect.

The problem in this country is that our soccer leaders don’t seem to realise that soccer is presently pure business and that business can only be transacted if you have not only talent, but that talent is well managed.

But again, managing well talent which is at the club’s disposal starts with recruitment which must and ought to be done correctly. And this brings us to a very important question that need to be responded to honestly.

The question is, do Young Africans, Azam FC and other top flight clubs in the VPL follow the right procedures in recruiting players they want?

To guide us on whether our clubs do the right thing when recruiting players, let’s consult some of the best minds in the game.

In his classic book titled; Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches, Bayern Munich’s Italian team manager, Carlo Ancelotti says recruitment of players ought to be done by the top management but through the advice of the team manager over what kind of players one needed.

Ancelotti, who is arguably one of the best club coaches in the world (won UEFA Champions League as a player with AC Milan thrice and as team manager also thrice), says it’s however, important to ensure that a targeted player for recruitment shares the same ideas and aspirations of the team manager and of course, values of the club he wants to go to.

He says before embarking on recruitment of players, it’s important for the top management to find out from the team manager (and in our case chief coach) the kind of players one wanted.

What Ancelotti means is that you don’t just bring in players in the club just for the heck of it or because a fan or member of the club thinks that the player is good for the team.

A club ought to ask itself, does the player it wants share ideas, aspirations and values of say Young Africans?

If a player you want does not share ideas, aspirations and values of both team manager and the club, then such a club could end up getting mercenaries who end up throwing away matches to clubs they either love or have bought them.

Indeed, how often have we come across players who make deliberate mistakes on pitches in order to allow teams they love or have been paid to win?

How often have we come across players who gang up in order to push out of the club the chief coach who has been giving them a lot of body conditioning workout which they hate?

How often have we come across players who gang up to lose matches in order to throw out a given leadership in the club? Ancelotti insists that a club should only buy a player if it needs.

But is that what Tanzanian soccer clubs do? Buy players because they need their services?

Or do they buy and continue to keep certain players, even if they are no longer useful to them because they don’t want club X to buy them; and having done that, the player(s) is then destined to warm up benches during competitive matches?

Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through tagalileattilio@

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