FORMER international and Simba Sports Club central defender, turned coach, Jamhuri Kiwhelo, better known as ‘Julio’ on Monday, this week, appealed to his former club not to sack their coach on account of the club’s latest poor performance.
Kiwhelo who was being interviewed by city’s radio stations, including the East African, argued that Simba’s current problems had nothing to do with the coach, but players whom he said had not only passed their prime, but were, soccer-wise, old.
According to Kiwhelo, Simba players had reached a stage where they could no longer cope up with the present, fast game not to talk of failure to understand the new, foreign coach. Kiwhelo could not have spoken better than he did. And he should actually be praised for telling it as it is.
Simba had one of the best coaches they have had in the Belgian tactician, Patrick Aussems. But he was sacked unceremoniously, when the club was already leading in the league. What they did to Aussems could rightly be compared with what the Chelsea owner, Russian, but now turned Israel citizen, Roman Abramovich did to two top Italian coaches, Carlo Ancelotti and player coach Di Mateo.
Abramovich sacked player coach, Di Mateo even after the Italian had led Chelsea into lifting the UEFA Champions League against all odds. Later the Russian sacked Carlo for failing in the UEFA Champions League even after winning the English Premier League.
Since then, Chelsea has failed to click despite being handled by some of the best coaches in the world. And, so is what Simba did when they decided to sack the Belgian tactician who had already got used to the culture of Tanzanian players after taking the club past the group stages of CAF’s elite Champions League.
If I were in Simba leadership, I would have used the Belgian not only in training the senior team, but also in helping the club establish a soccer academy. In fact, this is what I told my friend and mnyalukolo, Dr Mshindo Msolla, immediately after he was elected the new Young Africans Chairman.
I told him to establish soccer academy in the club instead of wasting money for recruiting third rate African players most of whom are nothing, but former internationals.
If they cannot establish such academies now, these clubs could at least go for players from already established soccer academies in the country instead of going for street made players most of whom lack skills in basic football.
I would have expected our top clubs to have bought most of the last batch of the players from Serengeti Boys who had represented Tanzania in the African Youth Championship in Dar es Salaam last year. For coaches like the present European coaches in Simba and Yanga, it would be easier to deal with Serengeti Boys players than those street made players because of their soccer background.
A player who has gone through the motion of a properly established and run soccer academy is already fully equipped with the soccer language and is better placed to understand top flight foreign coaches. Apart from what Kiwhelo said in his interview with city’s radio stations, the other problem our players have is attitudes.
They don’t seem to know what they want in life having plunged into football. Had they known what they wanted in life, they would have also realised that once they are in Simba or Yanga, they have less than 15 years to play soccer. And that’s where attitudes come in.
If they knew they had very little time to play and make money, then Simba and Yanga would not constitute the end, but rather a ladder for better paying clubs in Europe. Indeed, Simba and Yanga cannot be the end, but rather a ladder for getting to Europe.
But because of this attitude problem, our players see the two Dar es Salaam based soccer clubs as the ultimate clubs. To understand what I’m saying, consider the following short story. There is this gifted Simba player, who spends his precious time not training with his club, but drinking beer in a bar in this famous bar at Kawe!
I’m quite sure he told his club he was sick or is attending to this or that problem. And because of lack of follow up, the player ends up in this bar where misguided fans sing his praises. The foregoing are some of the players who ultimately fail to produce the requisite performance when their club takes part in the premier league.
And, when Simba is beaten by nondescript clubs in the league, the fans call for the sacking of the hapless coach. What our players need to know is that the kind of football they play in Simba and Yanga is not good enough. What is more, they would soon be dealt with by poverty.
To do justice both to themselves and the clubs, they need to raise their bar. And raising their bar means putting their all in their matches for their clubs. If one of the best paid African players in the world, Mo Salah, is already up for sale despite his electric performance, then that should give our players a sense of where football is; and is heading to.
Liverpool wants to sell not only Salah, but also the Brazilian goal-getter, Firmino, because they don’t think the two are good enough for the their club, going forward.