THE ON-GOING U-20 youth soccer league is a revelation! It’s just a matter of time before Tanzania lives to the statement made over four decades ago by a Fifa German coach, Bukhard Pape.
Pape was initially brought in the country by the world football governing body for coaching clinics. He had hardly stayed in the country for a month when he said Tanzania was one of the four countries in Africa which had the most talented soccer players. Of course, many Tanzanians did not believe him.
They thought it was the German’s way of trying to endear himself to the country’s soccer fraternity with the aim of being appointed by the then Football Association of Tanzania (FAT) as chief coach for the then nameless national soccer team or by either of the two leading clubs, Simba and Young Africans.
Pape named the other three countries as Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal. All the three countries have already been to the Fifa World Cup finals except Tanzania. But when Pape spoke about Tanzania being one of the four African countries which had the most talented soccer players, Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana had not yet qualified for the Fifa World Cup final.
You can now understand and in fact, appreciate how spot on the German coach was in his statement. For out of the four teams he had said had the most talented soccer players in the continent, three have already not only been already to the finals of the global soccer tournament, but one of them, Cameroun would become the first African national soccer team to reach the quarter final of the Fifa World Cup after initially downing a reigning World Cup champion, Diego Maradona’s Argentina during the Italia 90.
Whoever has been following closely the performance of players in the on-going youth soccer league would agree with me that the players are far better than their seniors in the Mainland Premier League. In fact, I’m personally not surprised why Young Africans chief coach, Tunisian Nasreddine Nabi said the other day that the club’s U-20 team was better than the senior team.
Young Africans’ U-20 team just like their arch soccer rivals, Simba are taking part in the youth soccer league and they are both a marvel to watch. If I had my way, I would have promoted both to the senior teams and did away with the old players. But you know the kind of problem you are likely to face if you did that.
Simba and Yanga clueless fans would skin you alive! Reason? Both set of fans belong to a bunch of people who don’t believe in building up a team. They are always interested in victories. But they don’t seem to appreciate routes taken by coaches in order to get to such victories.
I still remember what the Yanga management told Romanian coach, Professor Victor Stanculescus when the latter told them the team they had just handed to him had too old players and could not win any matches outside the country. He suggested to his new employers the need to build the team from scratch.
They told him they had no time for such adventures, that they had brought him in the country to train the team they had handed him. The Romanian said to himself, isiwe taabu! The rest is history. The man divided his time between the youth and the senior team.
And by the time he was leaving Tanzania at the end of 1972, Yanga kids were playing better football than the senior Young Africans team. Now a shock of your life. Do you know that the former governor of the bank of Tanzania, Benno Ndulu who has since passed on was part of the Yanga kids?
Other players were Godian Mapango, Mohamed Mkweche, Juma Pondamali, Adolf Rishard, Kassim Manara, who has since relocated in Italy to mention just a few. Back to the U-20 youth league. There was this match the other day between Simba and Mwadui. The game was a cracker. But Mwadui were a better team. My personal views.
Then came on Monday night, the match between Simba and JKT. Both goalkeepers were a marvel to watch. Taifa Stars chief coach, Kim Poulsen needs to take a close look at these players. They are the kind of stuff who should be donning our national colours. The TFF should also encourage our clubs to register these players.
For instance, Mwadui can build a new team by blending the old with players from the U-20 team for its future soccer competitions in the country. Our failure to do well internationally is a result of our own undoing. Had we started project soccer academy after Professor Victor had shown us how to do it, we would have long been licking many African soccer teams.
The little we are seeing, in terms of talent, from the ongoing youth soccer tournament is a result of very little efforts towards the establishment and development of soccer academies. We have very few institutions which pass for soccer academies. Soccer academies in the really sense of the word are yet to be established in Tanzania.
If we really had soccer academies, we would have long come across youth who are not only fluent in the game but also in one or two foreign languages. For that is what is taught in really soccer academies.
Players need to be fluent in local and foreign languages because they are being produced like ‘products’ for sale to the highest bidder in the market, hence dire need for our children to be also armed in foreign language, and in particular, English which is more or less universal.