TANZANIA Mainland representatives in the on-going CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup tournament, Kilimanjaro Stars, were lucky to have snatched a goalless draw against the Libyans in their opening match.
For Libya’s goal which was ruled offside was nothing but a perfect goal, but that is what makes football a very entertaining and exciting game. The Mainlanders had lady lucky smiling at them much as they now have a gargantuan task to chase the hosts, Kenya, who are leading the group after starting the tournament in a roaring fashion when they thumbed the Rwandans by two goals to nil.
Much as I had encouraged Ammy Ninje not to worry so much about winning in this tournament, but I think they gave a very good account of themselves; and this should now spur them to do better against lesser sides in the group. Indeed, Libya is not Rwanda, in terms of comparison.
The Libyans are more skillful and play a more, organized game that is somewhat comparable to those of other Maghreb countries that includes the likes of Tunisia and Algeria. Therefore earning a goalless draw against the Libyans is good, as it keeps Kilimanjaro Stars in a certain, positive position.
In short, I expect Kilimanjaro Stars to do better against Kenya, Zanzibar and Rwanda having shown a very promising game against the Libyans. The point is, if they could play the kind of game they showed against the Libyans in the opening match of the tournament, there is absolutely no reason why they should not do better against other teams in the group.
My only problem, and this is going by past experience over Kilimanjaro Stars and their senior brothers, Taifa Stars, is that they could also end up playing below par in their second, but extremely important match against the already wounded Rwandans.
Having been beaten by two goals to nil, the Rwandans are expected to go all out to save the chestnuts from the fire, and this is what our boys need to know and prepare for. As they stand at the moment, the Rwandans cannot afford to lose their second match against Kilimanjaro Stars.
Losing the second match against our boys would be as good as being out of the tournament, and knowing Rwandans’ psyche, they are certainly not going to allow that to happen. But the Rwandans can only ensure that the match against our boys end in their favour if our boys turn themselves into willing players.
Kilimanjaro Stars have everything to win their second match, one in order to prove that their goalless draw against the Libyans was not a fluke. And secondly, and more importantly, in order to challenge their hosts, Kenya who going by the local media commentaries in Nairobi, they appear to consider the group they are in as nothing more than a walkover.
Kilimanjaro Stars need to prove their hosts wrong, and they can only do that by starting by beating the Rwandans by more than two goals. Lastly but not least, Kilimanjaro Stars need to beat Rwanda in order to revenge, for it was against the same team that our boys were knocked out of the CHAN tournament.
If Kilimanjaro Stars lose in their second match, it would be extremely difficult to do well in subsequent matches. For almost a decade now, Tanzania has failed miserably in regional and continental soccer tournaments at national to club level.
Victories for Tanzanian soccer teams, be it at national or club level, have always been scarce and this does not mean we don’t know why we have failed, far from it. We have repeatedly failed because of the kind of players we have been relying on, soccer players who badly lack in soccer basics on account of the path they went through to become what they are today.
The Libyans we played against in our opening match did not become footballers in the same way most of our players became, through street football.
Most of them, if not all, became what they are today after going through soccer academy system. For after being turned into a punching bag for many years by soccer giants like Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, the Libyans did what the four countries had done, they also turned to soccer academies.
Since then, the Libyans have managed to hold their own in soccer matches against the four countries. But while the Libyans turned quickly to soccer academy, we have behaved differently, continuing to cling to outdated soccer training methods.
Fine, we have immense soccer talent, but that is not enough. For talent to work for you you need to harness it and that ought to be done scientifically through soccer academy and under the guidance of a coach training in dealing with young players in soccer academies.
In fact, this is the main reason I insisted in my column, on Saturday, that going forward, Ninje needs to get more players from soccer academies. He needs to break away with players who did not go through such a system, and this is regardless of how good such players may be.