TANZANIA’S level of soccer in the region was subjected to measurement early this week when four of its top clubs took on Kenya’s clubs in the SportPesa soccer tournament which kicked off on Monday.
On the first day of the tournament, Tanzania two major ‘casualties’ when Young Africans were knocked out by Kakamenga team from the western part of the East African nation.
And before Tanzania soccer fans could realise what was going on in neighbouring Kenya, the isles’ top dogs, JKU had also packed and were heading back home.
As I was preparing this piece on Tuesday morning, the much touted about Singida United were expected to take on AFC Leopards who were known in the past as Abaluhya United.
Although we don’t like the foregoing two results, but they go a long way to show the extent of stagnation of the beautiful game in Tanzania and that in itself should be enough to worry us as a nation.
Young Africans are still in the run in the CAF Cup tournament which has entered into group stages, but the fact that our club can lose against a team that not even represented Kenya in continental clubs tournaments should indeed worry us to the core.
Just the other day, one of Young Africans leaderscum- elders, Akilimali, was talking about his team bouncing back to its good, old days.
He may be right, but I was to give the loquacious man advice, I would ask him to use his massive influence in the club to change Young Africans’ ownership structure just like what their arch-rivals, Simba have done.
Young Africans need to change its ownership structure so that it can get enough money for paying well its players and that ought and must be done as soon as possible.
Yes, Young Africans do not deserve to get the kind of beatings they have been going through, beatings which stem from the club’s poor financial position.
The same thing can be more or less said about Zanzibar’s JKU which is one of the oldest clubs in Zanzibar.
Like Young Africans, they also need to do something about their ownership structure, and because they are government owned, then the institution which manages the team must decide either on the club’s ownership structure or sponsor, handsomely, the paramilitary soccer club.
Simba who played against a nondescript kenyan club that goes by the name of Kariobangi Sharks, which is a name corrupted from an English word, carry your bag, are reported to have also had a scare before winning the match through spotkicks.
For those who may not know, our Kariakoo name also came into existence at through corruption of another English word, Carrier corp, which was a name given to one of the military units during the First and Second World Wars.
Carrier corps were military units tasked by British army to carry goods for the army, and they became very handy when the army required to transport its goods and provisions through the forest where military trucks could not venture into in the absence of roads.
Back to Simba; had the Dar es Salaam Msimbazi Street club’s opponents been more economically with the chances that came their way, just like Young Africans, Simba would also have been home by now.
Kenyan English dailies covering the match between Simba and Kariobang Sharks wrote, Wasteful Kariobangi kicked out, meaning that they lost because of their failure to use the chances that came their way more usefully.
Kariobangi is ninth in the Kenyan league and if the country’s Vodacom Premier League can struggle against a team that is ninth in the Kenyan local league, one wonders what would happen in case they face Kenyan giants like Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
Going by what has so far happened in Kenya in the course of the on-going SportPesa soccer tournament, there is reason to start working extremely hard on our teams and that task ought and must be started by clubs’ managements themselves.
Last year, during the same tournament, Tanzania clubs missed out the opportunity to play against an English premier league club, allowing the final to be taken by two Kenyan clubs, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia with the latter taking on Everton.
That scenario is once again lurking in the dark and there is a possibility that the two Kenyan teams may once again do what they did last year, that’s end up in the final which will produce the winner who is supposed this time to be travelling to Britain to take on Everton.
And the million dollar question is; can our two remaining teams in the tournament, Simba and Singida United, stop the two Kenyan clubs from going to Britain?
To stop the two Kenyan clubs, they must have what it takes to knock out the two Kenyan teams. But the question is; do they have that sucker punch?