YESTERDAY I took a glance at the latest standings of the Mainland Premier League and found as usual reigning league champions, Simba Sports Club on top with 12 points from four matches.
Of course, the implication of the foregoing is that Simba have won all their first four matches and they are followed by Azam FC who have bagged nine points from the first three matches they have played.
But things change when you move downwards to the third team, Kagera Sugar, who have played five matches, but have nine points. Now my question to the Premier League organisers is very simple and that’s, why these discrepancies?
How do they allow one team to play up to five matches while others have played only between three and four matches? Clubs which have played five matches in the league apart from Kagera Sugar are Ruvu Shooting Stars, Namungo, JKT Tanzania, Alliance, Mtibwa Sugar and Biashara.
And clubs which have played only three matches are Young Africans, Polisi and Azam FC. If you asked, for instance, why Young Africans have to date played only three matches, the answer is they are presently involved in the lesser continental tournament, CAF Cup. It’s fine and fair.
But what about the Polisi team? Are they also involved in international assignment? If the question is no, why have they played only three matches why a seasoned club like Kagera Sugar have played five matches?
We had the same problem last season when Simba had a backlog of ten matches by the time they were being knocked out of the Champions League by TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo and we all remember the hue and cry that was made.
Indeed, we all said that what had happened should never, ever be repeated because it gave teams with such backlog of matches the opportunity of ‘organising their victories.’
Towards resolving the problem, there were reports to the effect that an institution responsible for organising the league which was reported to be embedded within the TFF had got in contact with more experienced soccer organisations abroad for some consultancy services over the problem.
But as is always usual with our country, we are always good at claiming to be looking for a solution from best practices, but at ultimately we always find ourselves back to square one. However, going by the on-going Premier League standings, the soccer federation has massive problems in their hands.
Yes, why have some teams played five matches and others only three matches? Personally, even this argument of teams taking part in continental soccer tournaments playing fewer matches on account of their preparations-cum-involvement in international assignment, I don’t buy it.
I don’t buy such arguments because no country in the world has its clubs being involved in so many soccer tournaments at home and abroad than Britain. Yet you don’t come across such massive backlogs in the English Premier League which is arguably one of the most viewed in the world.
One of the reasons why I don’t buy a team’s involvement in the continental clubs tournaments as an excuse for playing lesser matches in the local league is that there is no better preparation, my opinion, for such a club than taking part, simultaneously, in the local league.
Indeed, where does such a team hope to test its players before a major continental soccer club tie than in the local league? It would have made a lot of sense if such a club was heavily involved, during its preparation, in friendly matches outside Tanzania as part of its preparation for its continental assignment.
But we all know, our clubs never get involved in friendly matches as part o their preparations for international assignment. What do they do instead? They lock themselves in residential training, and the end result is that our clubs always fail to get far in such continental soccer tournaments.
We have witnessed that with Simba and I’m quite sure we are going to see the same thing with Young Africans. Therefore my humble message and appeal to the federation is; let’s get away from this bad style of organising the league. We need to have all teams, without any exception, taking part, actively, in the league.
The federation needs to ensure that all teams which have only played three matches get on with it, and now without much ado. Our Premier League is one of the weakest in the region and one of the reasons is the way we organise our league.
If we want a strong league, then all the teams ought and should get fully involved in the league from the start to the end. Being involved in the local league and international assignment simultaneously is one of the tests how strong a team is.
This is because it does not only keep the technical bench on their toes, but it also involves all registered players in the team heavily and closely involved. The local league provides a very strong platform for a team taking part in international assignment to test some of its players.
But because our league is weak, that’s also one of the main reasons why we have a very weak national soccer team. A strong national soccer team is always a product of a very strong local league and one cannot have a strong league if clubs taking part in such a league are weak.