FOMER Tanzania’s Gaming Board Chief, Abbas Tarimba, on Wednesday this week issued a very important statement-cum-advice to the country’s big guns, Simba and Young Africans Sports Clubs.
He said it was important for the two clubs to field their strongest line ups in their forthcoming SportPesa matches if they were serious about doing well in what has become a regional soccer tournament.
Since the introduction of the SportPesa soccer tournament in the region, the performance of Tanzanian soccer clubs, and in particular, Simba and Young Africans, has been extremely poor.
And one of the main reasons, as rightly noted by the journalist turned gaming chief is that the two clubs have had a very bad habit of fielding very weak line ups.
In short, if there is anything one can say, almost with authority about the two country’s soccer giants, is that they appear to have always looked down on the SportPesa soccer tournament and this is certainly difficult to understand.
It is difficult to understand because if there is any soccer tournament in the region that carries an aura of internationality, that tournament is SportPesa which provides the winner of the tournament the golden opportunity of playing against English Premier League soccer club, Everton.
The only clubs which have been doing well in the SportPesa soccer tournament are Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards from Kenya with the former dominating the tournament since its inception.
For two year running, Gor Mahia emerged victorious in the tournament, and twice, they have had the opportunity of playing against Everton; the first time in Dar es Salaam, in which Tanzania soccer fans had the opportunity of seeing former England international, Wayne Rooney.
In the second tournament, Gor Mahia flew to Britain where they took on Everton, losing once again, against the English Premier League club, which has lately been doing well in the most watched soccer league in the world.
Like Tarimba, I have always been surprised by the conduct of the Simba and Young Africans leaderships whenever it came to fielding their teams for SportPesa matches.
The two local clubs have always fielded weak sides as if they were withholding their best players for more important soccer tournaments! Personally, I would have understood such conduct if the two clubs would be doing well in regional and continental soccer tournaments; unfortunately as we can all testify, that is not the case.
In fact, there is no club in the region that has performed so poorly in regional and continental soccer clubs tournaments than Tanzanian soccer clubs.
And, that being a living fact, what drives Simba and Young Africans managements to field weaker teams in SportPesa matches when their clubs’ performance beyond Tanzania’s borders leaves a lot to be desired? Again, as rightly noted by Tarimba, for Simba, the forthcoming SportPesa soccer tournament provides them with the golden opportunity of fine-tuning their team in readiness for the group stages of the CAF Champions League.
In their group, the redshirted Tanzanian club is pitted against the most decorated African soccer club, in terms of lifting the continental clubs soccer crowns, Egypt’s Al Ahly who have won the Champions League eight times, AS Vita from the Democratic Republic of Congo and JS Saoura from Algeria.
Although the Algerian club is barely ten years old since it was established, it has over the few years performed better than the combined performance of Simba and Young Africans.
The same thing can be said about AS Vita who cannot in any way be compared to our clubs in terms of performance.
Although they have not accomplished what Al Ahly have done, but they are not new to continental silverware.
What this means is that Simba badly needs SportPesa matches to prepare themselves against the three top African soccer clubs and preparation means training hard and playing frequent matches in other soccer tournaments which includes the forthcoming SportPesa soccer tournament.
The SportPesa soccer tournament just like any other provides Simba the opportunity of trying each and every player in their squad in order to find out their individual and team abilities.
I would therefore, be surprised if Simba did the same thing they have been doing in the past whenever they were required to field their team for a SportPesa match, provide their weakest players.
Young Africans who are not taking part in any continental soccer club tournament this time around on account of their failure to qualify, also need to make full use of the SportPesa tournament in finetuning their team for the ongoing premier league.
In fact, I wouldn’t have personally worried about Simba and Young Africans’ conduct whenever it came to fielding weak players, had the two clubs had a good habit of organizing top-flight friendly matches at home and abroad for their teams.
Unfortunately they rarely organize such important friendly matches, and this explains, in part, why both clubs always have problems whenever it came to taking part in continental clubs soccer tournaments.
They have problems because their clubs are not well prepared for such tournament due to the absence of practice against the best clubs in the continent and as we all know, practice makes perfect.