TAIFA Stars’ skipper, Mbwana Samatta, was yesterday quoted by this paper as appealing to fans to turn up in large numbers to support his team when they take on their Malawian counterparts, The Flames.
Samatta’s call-cum-appeal was understandable given the kind of lacklustre performance the team has been giving its fans recently after putting up a sterling show in South Africa a few months ago when they were invited to take part in the COSAFA tournament.
Samatta did not ‘wander about’ during his appeal, admitting that his team had lately disappointed them. He promised that he would, along with his colleagues, try their level best to afford their fans a smile by the end of the match.
As rightly pointed out by the Belgian based professional player, they need to up their game today if they want to make themselves relevant. While Samatta has always played his all whenever he plays for Taifa Stars, locally based players continue to leave a lot to be desired, exhibiting lack of enthusiasm.
Empirical evidence shows the few, local players who have, for a long time, been giving their all in such national assignments, have been handsomely rewarded. Of course, it all started by Samatta himself, followed later by Thomas Ulimwengu and the recent beneficiary is former Young Africans’ winger, Simon Msuva.
Since joining the Dar es Salaam Jangwani Street club, Msuva identified himself as a hard working player, who always put his all, whether his club won or lost. Since his departure for the Moroccan top-flight four months ago, Young Africans have failed to fill in the void left by Msuva.
And when Msuva played his first match for Taifa Stars as a Moroccan based professional player, his improved, vast change of playing style was evident for everyone who had taken interest in keeping a close tab of the player.
Instead of running, aimlessly with the ball as he had sometimes done when still playing in the local league, the young man had become more professional in his approach to the game. But that was not all.
The young man had a brace in the game and what was perhaps more interesting, he scored the kind of goals he had failed to score when he was still a local based player. In a nutshell, Msuva proved that if a player is committed to a game, no matter where such a player plays, people will notice.
Therefore, as Samatta appeals to Tanzanian soccer fans to turn out in large numbers to support his team, it is perhaps equally im portant for the skipper to tell his colleagues, and in particular, the locally based ones that they will have to stand up to be counted if they want to be supported, and more importantly, to be taken more seriously by their fans.
The point here is not really winning by hooks and crooks, but rather to play in such a manner that even if the team loses today against their Malawian counterparts, the fans should be quite satisfied that they were able to see a very serious team at work.
For instance, a serious team at work does not concede a goal very early in the game for that usually mean nothing more than lack of concentration on the part of the players. Secondly, a serious team has players who fight for the ball whenever they lose to their opponents.
Tanzania soccer fans will today want to see each and every player in their national soccer team playing for one another as a team. Indeed, if Taifa Stars can remain together and play as a team from the start of the match to the end, there is no reason why they should beat the Malawians.
Tanzania has in recent past dropped, quite considerably, in the Fifa ranking and all due to its failure, for quite a while, to win its Fifa organized matches. And today’s match is once again, a Fifa organized match which requires nothing from the players except winning the match in order to improve the country’s position in the Fifa ranking.
For instance, the players need to ask themselves, and honestly at that, the following questions: One, why they have lost more matches than those they have won; secondly, since they started turning out for the team more than three years ago, why they have failed to qualify even for the CHAN tournament, which brings together teams made up of players who are not different from them in terms of background.
Lastly, but not least, they need to ask themselves, again very honestly, if a player of the same background and upbringing like Simon Msuva can break into international professional rank, what stops them from joining the Msuvas? I have posed to them the Msuva question because the now Moroccan based player learnt his trade just like most Tanzanian players, haphazardly.
But that did not stop him from a joining professional soccer club that has majority of its players from soccer academies.