ALGERIAN and Egyptian soccer clubs have lately turned into a jinx for Young Africans in the same way a Ghanaian club, Asante Kotoko, had done for the oldest Tanzanian soccer club in 1970. In the Young Africans’ latest encounter against an Algerian outfit whom they had edged out in Dar es Salaam by one goal to nil, the Tanzanian club were wallowed by four goals to nil.
For two seasons in a row, Young Africans have had their chances both in the Champions League and the Confederation Cup stopped by Algerian and Egyptian soccer clubs.
Last season, Young Africans were knocked out of the Champions League by an Egyptian soccer club, Al Ahly, who have always stopped Young Africans in continental club tournaments. Young Africans were given a chance last season in the lesser continental soccer tournament, the Confederation Cup.
Luckily, the Tanzanian soccer club went a step further by getting into group stages in which four teams played in a round robin tourney. Young Africans finished last in the group, hence bidding farewell in the tournament. But one of the teams that damaged Young Africans’ chances in that tournament last season was an Algerian soccer club.
In 1970s, Young Africans were twice knocked out of what was then known as the All Africa Club Championship by Ghana’s Asante Kotoko. For instance, in 1969, Young Africans drew twice against Asante Kotoko in Ghana and Dar es Salaam where a toss of the coin in the second draw in Dar es Salaam would see Young Africans being knocked out of the tournament by the Ghanaians. In 1970, the two clubs drew both in Ghana and Dar es Salaam, forcing the match commissar to decide the winner through a play off in a third country.
Ethiopia was chosen for the task and Young Africans almost refused to travel to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, following the outbreak of cholera in the Ethiopian capital. However, the Ethiopian authority assured them of protection against the deadly disease, and Young Africans would go on to lose the match against the Ghanaians by 2-1.
After beating their Tanzanian counterparts, Asante Kotoko, went on to win the continental club crown. The implication of the Ghanaians’ victory in that year is that had Young Africans beaten the Ghanaians, they would have won the trophy. The same thing could be said about Young Africans’ elimination from the tournament by the Egyptian soccer giants, Al Ahly.
Whenever Young Africans lost against, Al Ahly, would go on all the way to win the continental club soccer tournament. Again, the implication of this is that Young Africans need to kill the jinx, especially against multiple continental club champion winners, Al Ahly, if they want to break the jinx and win the continental club tournaments.
However, as long they continue to succumb both to the Egyptians and Algerians, they will never win continental clubs tournaments. As said by the Brazilian soccer idol, Pele, about the right route to the goal being through middle of the pitch.
The same thing can be said about Young Africans; that the right route to the continental soccer club crown lay through the Algerian and Egyptian soccer clubs. Their arch soccer rivals, Simba, more than once, in 1974, during the Champions League and in 1993, during the Confederation Cup, came close to winning both crowns because they had not allowed soccer jinx to stand in their way.
For instance, in 1974, Simba killed their arch rival’s jinx, the Ghanaians, when they knocked out Hearts of Oak to get a date with a textile mill club from Egypt, Mehalla el Kubra, who stopped them in the semifinal. In 1993, Simba were stopped in the final of the Confederation Cup when they were beaten by two goals to nil by Ivory Coast’s Stella Abidjan in Dar es Salaam.
It’s not difficult to guess Young Africans’ latest defeat against the Algerian soccer club.
Whoever, had watched the first leg encounter in Dar es Salaam a fortnight ago, would not be surprised by the massive defeat against Young Africans. We had all seen it coming, although both Young Africans players and their technical bench felt differently.
Indeed, you don’t beat a Maghreb soccer club in their backyard after you had squandered your chances in your own backyard. Former Young Africans players have already hit the nail on the head.
They said Young Africans have not been doing well in continental clubs tournaments for three decades now because they have been registering wrong players, locally and internationally. What former Yanga players have said about their club is not new. I have said these in my sports columns times without number, that our clubs have been getting wrong players, year in year out.
For instance, why do they keep the Rwandan and Burundian player? Or the Zimbabwean and Malawian players who have literally failed to take the club to another level? Without turning to soccer academies, Young Africans, Simba and Azam FC will never get beyond the preliminary round of continental clubs tournaments. It is as simple as that.