2017-18 season to be locals versus imports showdown
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HARUNA Niyonzima at Simba,s training camp. He is among the foreign imports expected to shine in the 201718 season. (File photo)

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SIMBA seemed to be much focused ahead of the 2017-18 Premier League season’s kick off on August 26, as every move they make get public attention.

Their public conquest goes high above their voice- less rivals, Young Africans who most often seem to prefer anonymity. All in all, the coming league season will be much tougher and highly competitive with locals locking horns with foreign imports in skill showdown.

Talk of the country’s football fans and stakeholders for weeks now is Rwandan international, Haruna Niyonzima who has joined Simba after ending a very brilliant career with rivals Yanga.

Alongside him, Ugandan international, Emanuel Okwi, also hit headlines after rejoining the Msimbazi Street club, and he was among the new catches the club paraded during the Simba Day Gala on August 8 at the National Stadium.

The Rwandan midfield maestro Niyonzima and Okwi are just a few of the countless foreign imports recruited for the 2017-18 league season. There are also notable local players among the new signings who continue to dominate headlines.

National team (Taifa Stars) such as goalie Aishi Manula, defender Shomari Kapombe and Erasto Nyoni were also paraded at the National Stadium on August 8 as Simba’s latest catches.

The names and reputations of the players announced in the heavily reinforced Simba squad arguably make the team lead the race to capture the season diadem.

As opposed to ‘silent’ Young Africans whose newsmakers such as Thabani Kamusoko and Donald Ngoma have not uttered a word this season, Simba again beat their rivals by publicly announcing Zimbabwean, Method Mwanjali as the new captain taking over from Jonas Mkude.

The club’s technical bench under the tutelage of Cameroonian, Joseph Omog decided to restructure the team’s management by picking the Zimbabwean defender for a captaincy role.

The team, through the Head of Information and Communications, Haji Manara, made the change while in Johannesburg in South Africa where the team pitched a pre-season camp.

Football in Tanzania is on the rise, and is becoming a haven for foreign players notably from neighbouring countries, West Africa and Southern Africa. With the new season just days away, many new foreign players will light up the impending premier league.

Simba are so much hungry for the league crown and have gone beyond the borders of Tanzania to beef up the squad. Last year Simba recruited Burundian hitman Laudit Mavugo who was the top scorer in his native country for the past two seasons.

Mavugo netted a total of 61 goals for Vital’O during the last two seasons in Burundi. Azam who have grown to become the third force in Tanzania football behind giants, Young Africans and Simba; are the worst victims of Simba’s hunting show.

They have lost four key players: Aishi Manula, Kapombe, John Bocco and Ertasto Nyoni. Four of six players who played for Yanga last year have remained. Donald Ngoma and Thaaban Kamusoko (Zimbabwe) and Amissi Tambwe (Burundi) have remained while Vincent Bassou (Togo) is not yet confirmed.

Historically, at least one promoted side has failed to beat the drop in the Tanzanian top flight. After months of waiting, the new season is expected to kick off on August 26, but not without the traditional curtain-raiser, the Community Shield which pits league champions, Young Africans against Azam cup champions, Simba, on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 in Dar es Salaam.

Also worth to consider though blanketed by Simba and Yanga publicity machinery are three newcomers Njombe Mji, Lipuli and Singida United, the club that seems to have picked many quality players from Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi.

The presence of many foreign players in almost every Premier League can arguably predict some changes in the 2017-18 league seasons as most of them are not known, but they can pose threats to the country’s football giants.

Football fans, stakeholders and fans must now get used to ‘surprises’ this season after long years of bidding success to the three giants; Young Africans, Simba and Azam FC.

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