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Afcon: Arab teams more organised, committed

ON Saturday, last week, I argued against the sacking of Taifa Stars’ chief coach, Nigerian Emmanuel Amunike, and one of my arguments was what goal had the coach’s employers, TFF, wanted Amunike to fulfill in order to keep his job.

I asked the latter question because you can only sack somebody from a job if that person has failed to fulfill a condition, in the form of a goal or objective, for his or her employment.

I’m today forced to raise, once again, Amunike’s sacking because of interesting developments which came to pass on Monday this week when Senegal and Algeria qualified for the Afcon finals scheduled for Friday this week.

What is interesting about the Algeria, Senegal final match is that both teams had been on the same group with Taifa Stars and Kenya respectively which speaks volume about the group.

That the Tanzania group produced finalists and that one should actually not heckle on Tanzania and Kenya teams because their group produced the 2019 Afcon finalists.

Now if we all agree that this was the strongest group in the Afcon soccer tournament then we ought also to ask ourselves what did we want Amunike to do to keep his job?

Did we want him to beat Senegal and Algeria, teams which have emerged finalists after overcoming 22 teams?

And if that was the reason why TFF sacked the Nigerian coach, then the third logical question that TFF need to answer is what did they do in order to support Amunike’s efforts?

The point is, all African teams which sacked their respective coaches, including the most successful East African country, Uganda, which had gone through the group stages, their respective federations had provided them with over ten trial matches.

I have once again touched on this subject because I don’t see why the present crop of TFF leaders should still remain in power after sacking the coach.

They also need to go and allow elections of new leaders to take place.

The other issue connected with the Afcon soccer tournament that is worth noting and which I noted in the course of the tournament, is the performance of countries like Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, in short Arabic countries.

The foregoing countries impressed me more than other countries because they all tended to play more as teams rather than individual players and that explains why it was extremely difficult to beat them.

When South Africa’s Bafana Bafana edged out Egypt’s Pharaohs by one goal nil, they succeeded simply because they had played according to what their coach, Baxter had told them to.

However, in the subsequent match against Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Bafana Bafana did not play according to what their coach had told them, hence their defeat against Nigeria which was not as strong as Egypt.

Again, when the Super Eagles took on Tunisia in the semifinal, they did not play as they had done against Bafana Bafana and as a result they could not stand against the Tunisians who apart from playing as a team, they were more clinical in whatever they did on the pitch.

You actually find the same problem of lacking team work with a team like Senegal which was considered the most expensive team in the Afcon in terms of the money its players earned as professionals in different topflight European clubs.

As I had occasion to say when Senegal beat Taifa Stars in the opening match of the group tournament over three weeks ago, Senegal had 12 players playing in the topflight French league, which is referred to as ligue not to talk of those who turned out for theBundesliga, serie A in Italy and Laliga in Spain.

It was thus not surprising when they would later be edged out, during the group stages, by Algeria who they would be meeting in the final on Friday this week.

The second problem I noted in African teams, no matter how gifted their players were in terms of skills, is lack of fighting spirit.

Arab teams play with more commitment than their African counterparts and when they lose matches they tend to be more concerned than African teams and this perhaps explains why African teams fail to reach far, even when in cases where they have more skillful players.

For instance, in terms of skills and the profile of European clubs they play for, no Arab country in this year’s Afcon soccer tournament beats Senegal.

Yet they have been struggling whenever they had the opportunity of playing against Arab teams, as clearly demonstrated by their matches against Algeria and Tunisia in the group stages and semifinals respectively.

It is for the same reason that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were beaten by Algeria in the final on Friday much as the pedigree of the players in the latter team is not as good as that of the former.

In conclusion, there are a lot of things to learn from this year’s Afcon soccer tournament.

But if Tanzanians want to do well in the next Afcon soccer tournament, they need to get new TFF leadership and not the kind of leaders we have.

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Author: ATTILIO TAGALILE

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