Simba’s loss to Green Warriors: A wake up call?
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SIMBA Sports Club has finally parted ways with their Cameroonian coach, Joseph Omog, after failing to defend the Federation Cup against a street team, Green Warriors.

Simba’s defeat against Green Warriors reminded me of what happened almost two decades ago when Bayern Munich was beaten 5-0 at the former 1972 Olympic Games’ Munich Stadium by the then Yugoslavian club, Red Star Belgrade.

Commenting on the ignominious defeat, the then Bayern Munich President and 1990 Fifa World Cup winning coach, Frans Backenbauer, said one thing he had learnt is that money was not everything when it came to winning or losing in soccer.

The Bayern Munich outfit that had lost in their own backyard against the Belgrade semiprofessional club was richer, in terms of salaries earned by its players, over one thousand times. Backenbauer would later tell whoever cared to listen to him that the entire salary package earned by Red Star Belgrade was less than what one Bayern Munich player earned per month.

But what Backenbauer did not know then, was that members of the Red Star Belgrade outfit had played together in the team since they were all U-17 in the team’s soccer academy. In 1990, the Yugoslavian national soccer team which was mainly composed of players from Red Star Belgrade would qualify for the Euro 1992 after beating Denmark by seven goals to nil.

However, because of the Communist country’s involvement in Balkans War, they were banned from taking part in the tournament and their place taken up by Denmark who went on to win the Euro Cup. And that is more or less what happened a few days ago when Simba was beaten by Green Warriors.

The total value of the Simba squad, in terms of registration fees and players’ salaries, compared to that of Green Warriors was staggering. For while Simba is reported to have spent almost a billion Tanzanian shillings, Green Warriors had been built almost from nothing!

The implication of this is that Tanzanian streets are so full of soccer talent for clubs that have the patience for scouting for such talents that the millions of shillings spent by the so called big guns in registration of new players is nothing but a waste.

Therefore, the way forward for our so called top flight clubs is to use their local coaches such as Abdallah ‘King’ Kibadeni, Selemani Matola, Fred Felix Minziro and others in scouting for talents all over the country and turning such talents around into good, useful players.

Simba loss against Green Warriors was not a fluke on the part of the latter, but the giant killers had better players than those Simba had. Yet Green Warriors did not have a single foreign player in their line-up; and that is what Simba and other top-flight clubs in the VPL need to learn.

The Cameroonian coach both Simba and Azam FC had sacked had done wonders in West Africa before coming to Tanzania, and it was such a record that had led Azam and later Simba seek Omog’s signature. The point is no matter how highly qualified our local and foreign coaches are, they will never succeed in turning around our players as long as we continue to rely on haphazardly brought up players.

When I talk of getting raw talent from streets, what I mean is getting them when they are still young, say, around ten and not more than that. Once we land our ten something players, these should be goaded into a soccer academy where they would be handled by well trained and qualified coaches specifically prepared to handle children.

For instance, I’m not well conversant with the composition of Zanzibar Heroes who performed wonders in Kenya during the just ended CECAFA Challenge Cup. But it is very much likely that those unknown Zanzibari boys were picked when they were still very young and later moulded, as a group, into a winning outfit.

I don’t see how those boys would have played the way they did had they not been prepared when they were still young. And this is what Simba and other big teams in the VPL need to learn; that they cannot do well locally and internationally as long as they continue to rely on local players they never had a hand in.

Recently Simba bought a Ghanaian defender from their Iringa based sister club, Lipuli. If a poor club like Lipuli can own a good, foreign player from Ghana, what stops a club of Simba’s stature and financial muscle to get a better foreign player? What Simba, Young Africans and Azam need to do is make full use of their local coaches in combing the country of young talents for their soccer academies.

It is better to spend millions of Tanzanian shillings searching and developing young talents instead of buying out former internationals from other countries. Indeed, what is the point of getting foreign players who are not even called home to play for their national soccer teams?

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