TAIFA Stars finally met their match in Zambia’s U-20 outfit which had a few weeks back taken part in the Fifa U-20 World Cup in South Korea. And, results earned by the two sides in that game has now led the two teams into two different directions.
While Zambians are now scheduled to take on neighbours, Zimbabwe, in the final; Taifa Stars were scheduled to take on Lesotho on Saba Saba Day, yesterday, as I was compiling this column from the comfort of my sitting room.
Whoever had the opportunity of watching the Taifa Stars, Zambia encounter, would agree with me that the Zambians clearly showed the different methods players from the two teams had gone through to become what they are now, footballers.
While most of Tanzania players went through haphazard soccer training, it was clear Zambian players were a product of soccer academy just like what the South Africans had shown in the previous game against Taifa Stars.
Like the South Africans, the Zambians were more organised, threaded their passes better and made more, organised attacks against Taifa Stars. In the previous match against Bafana Bafana, the South Africans had literally camped in Taifa Stars’ half, forcing almost 15 corner kicks.
The same story came to the fore when Taifa Stars took on the Zambians in the semifinals. The latter staged more raids, but unlike the South Africans, their series of attacks produced four goals.
Once again, the two southern African teams proved what I have, times without number, said in my sports columns; that soccer academy is the only answer to our present soccer miseries.
Again, for those who watched, through their television sets, all Taifa Stars’ matches in South Africa, are likely to have noted that Thomas Ulimwengu, who is probably the only player in Taifa Stars line up to have gone through a soccer academy, has been struggling since he started playing in the Cosafa Cup tournament.
It is my considered views that Ulimwengu has been struggling because he is playing with players who have different soccer philosophies and approaches to the game.
Ulimwengu has tended to do better when another former soccer academy player, Mbwana Samatta, is in the team; and that is actually one of the main reasons TP Mazembe had roped in both Tanzanian players in the team.
For the doubting Thomases, I invite them to watch Kenya’s Harambee Stars in action and they will discover more or less the same problem when Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield dynamo, Victor Wanyama, is thrown down the deep end of the tunnel with locally based Kenyan players.
He is always not the same player we see when he is turning out for Tottenham Hotspur and the reasons are more or less the same. He cannot produce a good result in a team where the majority of the players lack basic soccer skills.
It is therefore my hope that the new Tanzania Football Federation leadership to be elected soon, would make it mandatory for all clubs in the Vodacom Premier League to establish soccer academies.
I repeatedly, called on the present TFF leadership to do the same thing, immediately they were voted into the office, unfortunately they elected to do something else which has led us to where we are.
Of course, we all know where we are, nothing more than what former President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, once told Tanzanians; that it constituted a head of a madman in which would-be barbers would learn their trade and we have served that role to the letter.
For instance, in the just ongoing Cosafa tournament, we have more than once played against teams that are being prepared for the future, Bafana Bafana and the youthful Zambia’s Chipolopolo.
As I had noted in my last sports column on Wednesday, this week, the senior South African team has, like Taifa Stars, been taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
But while we drew one-all against Lesotho in Dar es Salaam in the same Afcon qualifier, the senior Bafana Bafana team beat their Nigerian counterparts, Super Eagles, in their own turf.
But instead of throwing the senior Bafana Bafana soccer team in the Cosafa Cup tournament, the South African soccer federation decided to take their team on a European tour where they could take on better and stronger opponents.
And yesterday, Taifa Stars were supposed to have taken on Lesotho, for the third playoff. And we can all recall that this is a team we failed to beat in Dar es Salaam over a month ago.
What this means is that by the end of the Afcon qualifiers, Taifa Stars would have played against Lesotho three times. Had the outgoing TFF heeded my advice about soccer academy, we would have also been using our CECAFA and COSAFA soccer tournaments in trying out our U-20 and U-21 teams in the same way the South Africans and Zambians are doing.
It is these kinds of things that make me look forward to the new TFF leadership. Yes, I’m looking forward to the kind of leaders who would refrain from becoming members of boards of teams that simultaneously take part in the Vodacom Premier League.