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Why we need to retain Coach Ndayiragije

TAIFA Stars on Tuesday night this week drew one all with Tunisia, hence making their qualification in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals more difficult.

In both matches against the Tunisians,  they have only managed to bag in one point that has left them on the third spot.

In the first leg played in Tunisia over a week ago, Taifa Stars went down by a lone goal which was scored through a penalty after Taifa Stars’ stopper, Aishi Manula, brought down Tunisia’s striker when he dived to get the ball in his box.

Without that unfortunate foul which was of course caused by the failure of our defenders to perform their duties, that match could have also ended in a draw.

A lot of things have been said and written in the media. And as usual, many have once again blamed Taifa Stars’ failure to do what was expected of them.

But this time, I would like to differ.

Taifa Stars did their bit and instead of blaming them, we need to praise them for doing what they did, at least getting a point from the Tunisians. We need to know what team we played against and let us not compare Taifa Stars with teams like Burundi which seem to be doing well in this tournament.

Fine, our neighbours may once again qualify for the Afcon finals as they had done with us last time. But the question we need to ask ourselves is, which teams have they been playing against before attacking Taifa Stars.

The team that Taifa Stars have just played against, Tunisia, stands at 26th in the world football governing body, Fifa’s rankings, and the Tunisian team is part of four African national soccer teams that are in the first, top 50 national soccer teams in the latest Fifa ranking.

Other African national soccer teams in the first top 50 countries in the latest Fifa ranking with their positions are Senegal (21st), Algeria (30th) and Morocco (39th). The first six top national soccer teams in the first group of 50 national soccer teams in the world in the latest Fifa ranking are Belgium, France, Brazil, England, Portugal and Spain.

I have deliberately put in Spain in the group in order to remind our soccer fans that this is the team that beat Germany by six goals to nil this week in their European nations finals’ qualifiers!

But let’s also not forget that Germany and Italy are the only nations, after Brazil, to have won the Fifa World Cup four times. At the top is Brazil which has won the tournament five times. Indeed, Spain which beat Germany by six goals to nil this week, has won the Fifa World Cup only once, and in Africa, when they edged out the Netherlands in the finals held for the first time in the continent in South Africa.

Now what is my point or argument here? My argument which is also an appeal of sort is to humbly request the TFF not to sack the Burundian coach, Etienne Ndayiragije.

 For the first the federation appears to have succeeded in getting the right coach for the team. They now need to retain him, to give him more time to work on the team that appears to understand him.

Besides, the man is also fluent in Kiswahili and we all know the problem our players have. I’m quite sure  had we also had Samatta in both matches we could have done better.I was personally very much impressed by the coach’s tactics which he employed in both matches, and in particular, in the first match and which enabled Taifa Stars to do what it did.

Before Taifa Stars flew to Tunisia, I had a lot of reservations over their likely performance away from home.

My readers would recall that I reminded them the kind of team that Taifa Stars were up against, a team that had won Afcon once, reached Afcon finals several times and took part in the Fifa World Cup finals three times, not a mean achievement.

To me, the one goal loss and away from home is almost a draw. But what we now need to ask ourselves is, where would Tanzania be today had our local teams embarked, long ago, in the establishment of soccer academies?

I’m once again raising the question of soccer academy because that is where the world is heading to. Without preparing our players through, well, run scientifically established soccer academies, our national soccer teams will get nowhere.

This week we also celebrated the victory of our girls, the national U-17 who participated in the just ended COSAFA soccer tournament in South Africa. I watched our girls from the comfort of my sitting room from the start to the end of the tournament and I sometimes almost wept. Yes, tears flowed down my cheeks, literally! Why? I was very much disturbed by the fact that our country has a lot of talent in sports, yet somebody, somewhere is deliberately not doing his job.

In the finals, our girls took on Zambia who scored their first goal very early in the match. But from the start to the end of the match, our girls dominated in each and every department. It was therefore not surprising when they finally won the tournament. But the girls played the way they played because they are a product of soccer academy. But have we learnt anything? 

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Author:  ATTILIO TAGALILE

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