Of Simba, Mbao encounter and lessons learnt
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THE Simba, Mbao FC Vodacom Premier League encounter played at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza on Monday this week, is yet another important lesson that Tanzanian soccer clubs, and new comers to league, in particular, need to learn. Mbao FC had more than wrapped up the game against one of the most experienced clubs in Tanzania, Simba Sports Club.

However, an attempt and a stupid one on the part of Mbao players, to cheat on the game by engaging in time wasting, finally led to their ignominious defeat. You don’t involve yourself in time wasting game against an experienced team that is managed by one of the best coaches in Africa and survive.

After scoring and leading by two goals against the Dar es Salaam Msimbazi Street outfit, Mbao FC should have won that match. And the simplest way of doing that was not holding up the game, but rather taking it to their opponents until the end of the match.

But it’s now over and Mbao FC may not get the chance they had against Simba again, and what is more, they have no one else to blame except themselves.

If you talk of learning a lesson the hard way, that’s exactly what Mbao FC players went through, and I’m quite sure they will never forget in their lives. But there are also lessons for Simba, lessons that revolve around the need to very hard work in a match from the word go.

The point is what happened to Simba in Mwanza on Monday this week, the opportunity of coming back from two goals down and eventually emerging victorious may not happen to them again. In short, they should never allow a team to beat them and lead up ten minutes before the end of the game.

They were able to win the Monday encounter against Mbao FC because of the team’s inexperience in protecting their hard earned two goal lead. Against any other team in the VPL, Simba would not have succeeded to do what they did to Mbao FC on Monday. And, that’s why they should never allow such a thing to happen again as next time around it could backfire.

And, talking about not allowing the recurrence of what happened in Mwanza, Simba should also thank the referee and his linesmen for keeping their eyes on the clock, for ensuring that wasted time were recovered. Other officiating officials may not have done what Mwanza officials did, compensate the time that Mbao FC players had wasted deliberately.

And that’s why I have insisted that Simba should not allow what happened to them in Mwanza to happen again. Simba’s technical bench also needs to ask themselves hard questions over the fielding of their players. For instance, they need to ask themselves why it took so long for their team to get to the level they got in the last 15 minutes of the game.

Was it a problem of some of their players not being physically and mentally ready for the game? But on the positive side, coming back to win a match they had trailed for most part of the game by two goals to nil is a reflection of the team’s character.

Simply put, Simba players appear to have finally come of age; the players have matured. And the team may now perhaps be ready for bigger assignments outside the VPL.

But for the club to get to where they have repeatedly failed in the last four years, they will need to work extremely hard in their training. Hard work includes ensuring that they don’t lose any remaining matches which are set to witness teams putting in their all.

It’s going to be more difficult in matches that involve teams in the lower rung of the ladder as such teams would be fighting tooth and nail to avoid relegation.

What this means is that Simba will have to put more into their preparations, especially against what may be considered weak opponents. Indeed, just as it is in the English premier league, so is it in Tanzania, that teams in the relegation zone are extremely difficult to play against in the final stretch of the league.

The thing can be more or less said about teams that consider themselves as contenders for top honours. I have in mind clubs like Azam and Young Africans.

For as the league tapers on, teams in the relegation zone and those which consider themselves as top contenders for the crown, are likely to provide very strong opposition to whomever they meet.

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