THE regional soccer tournament, CECAFA Challenge Cup, is finally over, with the winners, Kenya, through with their deserved victory. And so are the Zanzibari’s who finished as first runners up after putting up a splendid, memorable performance.
As they usually say, those in the know, the end of the revived 2017 CECAFA Challenge Cup tournament is actually the beginning of preparations for the next tournament, and this is especially so for countries that performed below par.
We all know countries that performed poorly, and this includes our own Tanzania Mainland team, The Kilimanjaro Stars, who ought to drop their second name, Stars! Yes, they were far from being stars in this tournament.
In fact, they were nothing more than the tournament’s laughing stock, and this is what the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) ought to start thinking extremely hard before they become irrelevant just like their predecessors.
One question I have always asked myself is why successive TFF administrations have always been reluctant to embrace the soccer academy philosophy which is currently being pursued almost by all countries in the world including our own neighbours.
Since the days of Leodegar Tenga and company, some of us stressed the need to embrace the soccer academy philosophy, but these administrations have always spurned our advice. Of course, the Tenga administration can at least be forgiven for spending most part of their time reorganizing game and that in turn gave the Jamal Malinzi leadership the opportunity of building from where the Tenga administration had left.
Therefore, the task of the Malinzi administration was to rebuild all our national soccer teams through the setting up of the pool of players, who could have helped in forming the nucleus of our national soccer teams, from Taifa Stars to Serengeti Boys and from Ngorongoro Heroes to Twiga Stars and their Twigalets, if such a word exist.
But that pool of players could have only been created had the Malinzi administration made it mandatory for all Vodacom Premier League clubs to establish soccer academies. Had the past, immediate administration done the foregoing, it would have been possible for the present administration to start enjoying the fruits of what had been done by their predecessor.
Unfortunately that is not the case. We are still where we were in 1981 after Taifa Stars had managed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1980. In short, the failure of Kilimanjaro Starless to perform, as required, in the just ended Challenge Cup, is therefore a testimony of the extent the present and the last administrations have failed to deliver.
Had it not been for the protectiveness with which the world soccer organizing body, Fifa, give to its national soccer federations the world over, the Kilimanjaro Starless’ debacle was enough to dissolve the present TFF leadership and call for new elections.
Personally, I really don’t know how the district and regional soccer leaderships affiliated to the TFF feel about the Kilimanjaro Starless’ debacle. Do they think it’s just cool? I’m posing this question on two main grounds.
One, it is members from district and regional leadership that elected the present crop of TFF leadership and secondly, but more importantly, they would be failing in their duty if they don’t guide the very leadership they had elected.
And, that being the case, one would have therefore expected comments from the lot on what transpired in Kenya as far as the performance of Kilimanjaro Starless is concerned. But keeping mum on what befell the Mainland soccer team in that tournament just goes to show that Tanzania soccer fans are on their own. One question we need to ask ourselves is if we cannot perform well in a regional soccer tournament, how do we expect to perform well in Afcon and Fifa World Cup qualifiers?
Once in a while, our government has been chipping in whenever we fail to raise funds for transporting our national soccer teams to major soccer tournaments. My appeal to the government is don’t assist both Kilimanjaro Stars and Taifa Stars until and unless the TFF assures you that they have embraced the soccer academy philosophy.
We have not been doing well, regionally, continentally and internationally because we have continued to rely on soccer players who don’t know why they are playing football in the first place. We cannot win any soccer tournament under the sun as long as we continue to rely on players who don’t consider the game as a job that can only last them in less than twenty years.
For to last even fifteen years of professional soccer, requires not only discipline, but seriousness, commitment and hard work. What the TFF leadership need to know that Tanzanians are no longer going to accept the kind of performance that was displayed by Kilimanjaro Starless in 2017.
As we prepare to enter the new year of 2018, the TFF leadership needs to roll back their sleeves and work hard because any repeat of the 2017 performance is not going to be tolerated.