DAR ES SALAAM was abuzz on Thursday this week when the Vodacom Premier League defending champions, Simba tasted their first defeat at the hands of Tanzania Prisons in their away match at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Sumbawanga, Rukwa, the new venue of the Prisons Warders.
The city was abuzz because it means a lot, especially to their traditional rivals, Young Africans who have been locked out of the top spot for over three years now and badly need to be where they have always wanted to be. Defeat against Simba coming as it did a few weeks before the long awaited derby between the two city bulls means a step towards Young Africans’ glory.
To date, Young Africans have not lost a match in the league and this should give them a telling fillip as they prepare to face their arch rivals in a do or die derby match.
Both sides have prepared themselves well for this season and Young Africans have just recruited a foreign coach, this time from neighbouring Burundi which has suddenly become a leading supply of both players and coaches.
The tiny central African country of less than five million people got where they are today because they made good use of the FIFA money every country in the world is supposed to get and every year. How did they make use of the FIFA money?
Instead of lining up their pockets, they spent it in establishing soccer academies and through training of soccer coaches and referees. But for Tanzania, we did what we have always done, we abused and misused the fund so much that the world football governing body finally decided that it had enough.
One of the bad uses of the FIFA money was when one of the past leadership decided to move the offices of the TFF to a very expensive building in Dar’s CBD and when the Fifa got the wind, they ordered them out of the building.
But the good news is that last year they promised the new TFF leadership that they would resume funding to Dar es Salaam, meaning that they have confidence in the present crop of the TFF leadership.
One hopes that when Fifa’s funding resumes, the TFF leadership will emulate what their Burundian counterparts, especially in training coaches for training our children in soccer academies and selected primary and secondary schools.
We really need to invest in coaching if we want to get out of where we are at present in which recruitment of foreign players has turned into a very big deal. Apart from the new Burundian coach at Young Africans, Taifa Stars is also being handled by a Burundian coach.
Yet this is a country where 40 years ago its clubs and the national soccer team used to be pumped not less than seven goals! Where are we 40 years after? We have remained where we were and this is because we continued to rely on old methods of preparing our soccer players.
Back to where I started, namely, the Simba, Prisons match. Tanzania Prisons need a pat on their collective backs for doing what they did on Thursday, detaining Simba in their prison facilities for 90 minutes.
Apart from collecting all the three points, the victory should serve as a boost to their continued training and participation in the premier league. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Prisons have done what they did to Simba and this is something I would like to touch on today.
Yes, they have been troubling Simba, Young Africans and Azam several times in the past. Yet they have always failed to maintain their winning streak. What they now need to do is ask themselves why?
Had they applied the same techniques and tactics that provided them victories against the three big guns and later extended their medicine to the other remaining clubs in the league, they could have easily won the league not once, but more times.
If you think I’m pulling your legs, then watch the next game and you would be shocked by the results as they are likely to draw or lose even if they played in their own, new backyard. And the question I have always asked myself is why are teams that beat big guns in the league fail whenever they meet weaker teams?
After the end of the Simba, Prisons match on Thursday; many soccer fans that included a former government and party leader said Prisons had made a very good advertisement to their fans in Rukwa. The man was spot on. But I can bet my last penny that he would soon be disappointed.
For beating Simba or Yanga is no longer news in this country for the simple reason that giant killers always end up dropping their guard against weaker opponents and that is very bad for the development and growth of the game. We therefore need to put to an end these unpredictable results.
Indeed, if Prisons managed to edge out Simba on Thursday, what should stop them from beating weaker opponents who are in majority in the league? Prisons should be proud of themselves for beating a team whose players’ cost is over one billion Tanzanian shillings.
This reminds me of a former Yugoslavian soccer club by the name of Red Star Belgrade when it thrashed Bayern Munich by five goals to nil and in their own backyard in Munich, southern Germany and the club’s President and former national player and coach, Franz Beckenbauer had this to say: “Today I learnt one lesson. Money is not everything in football.”
He said Bayern Munich had lost heavily a match to a club whose combine value is worthy a six-month salary of one of their highest paid player!