ONCE again, the country’s oldest clubs Simba and Young Africans are engaged in a cut throat race for the Mainland Premier League title, as it has always been the case in the past years. As the 2017-18 league season slowly comes to an end, a lot is being said by football fans in the country mainly on the general assessment of the unfolding league, as the top three teams namely Simba, Young Africans and Azam FC are going toe to toe.
Prior to the season’s kick off, few had expected to see other teams outside the standard top three of Simba, Yanga and the emergency of Azam to come in full throttle and challenge for trophy Sslightly behind the top three teams, Tanzania Prisons, Singida United and Mtibwa Sugar have provided stiff challenge this season, but somewhat remained outsiders in battle for the title.
With almost six rounds to go, football fans across the country are wetting their appetite to see which team will claim the only sport for the continental club championships. Much praises, however, have been directed to the current league leaders Simba who are looking hungry for success in every encounter they come across whether at home or away. Since day one of the league,
the Msimbazi based side has proved to be a strong opponent in the entire competition to the extent that some pundits are predicting that they are on the verge to finish the season’s campaign, while enjoying the current yet to be defeated record. However, other teams which trade in the contest have learned a great lesson of expecting good results out of the level of investment done by the club which has emerged to be the best weapon for excelling in football, not only here in Tanzania but in the entire world.
The Reds through the club’s Communication Officer Haji Manara, announced earlier before the commencement of the season that the team had used 1.3bn/- to purchase new players to strengthen the squad. At this juncture, the fruits of their heavy investment in the team is now bearing tangible fruits which are easily seen and will play a vital role if Simba win the championship this season, after enduring a trophy drought for four consecutive seasons.
The DNA of Frenchman tactician Pierre Lechantre, who took charge of the team from Cameroonian mentor Joseph Omog looks to be working efficiently and players have adopted fast his attacking football style. As it stand, both Simba and Yanga have only one chance to play in the CAF supervised Interclub competitions next year, which is to win the league title, hence maximisation of three crucial points at this stage is very important.
Both have been knocked out of the Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC), whose winner represents the country in CAF Confederation Cup. The 1-1 draw that Simba’s traditional rivals Yanga had on Wednesday against Singida United at the National Stadium in the city gave the Reds extra breathing space before their yesterday’s match against Mbeya City. Pundits say the epic derby clash slated at the end of this month between Simba and Yanga will surely be the decider of the championship.
To show that the Reds are the key championship pursuers, they have lately obtained six points from away difficult venues to win namely at Saba Saba ground in Njombe, where they recorded a 2-0 goal thriller against league debutants Njombe Mji, before seeing off Mtibwa Sugar by a solitary goal at Jamhuri Stadium . Yes, this is exactly what teams which are eager to win the championship do as they confront each match as the final making sure that reaping of crucial three points is the number one priority.
An upcoming sports analyst Richard Andrew compared Simba with the English Premier League side Leicester City who won the EPL trophy with the same determination and calibre as portrayed by the Msimbazi lads. However, the league needs to see more teams joining the race to win title. With only two or three teams exchanging top positions year in year out was not too healthy for the country’s football.
Lack of strong league is brought about by a variety of factors which includes, among others, small number of teams participating in a league and weak teams in terms of the quality of players individually and collectively. The presence of weak teams in the league is also brought by variety of factors, but chief among them is lack of investments. Therefore,
the decision to increase the number of teams in the league from 16 to 18 next seasons is commendable. It is up for the teams now to live to their billings and the hope is that all teams have made thorough preparations to compete in the league. It is a fact that a competitive league could not remain a two or three-horse race time and again as this fact has rendered it ‘very weak’. Let our league be one of