Are Yanga desperate or doing right moves?

Transfer rumours have continuously been floating around the mainstream media and have attained new levels of craziness and over-excitement recently. Most clubs have gone about reinforcing their teams ahead of next season, but until now the most serious movers and shakers have expectedly been former Champions Young Africans. The Dar es Salaam giants have so far been the dominant force in the transfer market. 

Yanga have understandably gone all out trying to capture whatever good player there is. The yellow-and-green sporting giants are linked with just about everyone and look unstoppable in the transfer market. After a dire league campaign saw them finish third and completely miss out on two slots to represent the country in international competitions, you would expect Yanga to delve into the transfer market in a bid to revitalize the club’s fortunes.  The soul-searching 5-0 hammering by archrivals, Simba, their heaviest since the 1970’s also could be singled out as another factor behind Yanga’s aggressiveness in the transfer market.

But some observers could as well argue that the bizarre spending has proved to be Yanga’s approach in the transfer market in the past few years thanks to millions of shillings pumped into the club by some few rich individuals.  Fair enough, with Simba and Azam FC currently boasting best squads, as justified by the number of the two team’s players in the national team, Taifa Stars, there can be no doubt that Yanga need to do some reinforcements to keep pace with their rivals. Whilst Yanga have a genuine case for strengthening, a close look at their current squad prompts questions whether or not the club needs to do an overhaul.

The club has significant funds to spend on players. Luckily enough, some members of the club have individually been recruiting players whom they believe can change their team next season.  While the money is there, those in the club’s registration committee should be smart enough to learn from previous mistakes and spend wisely. Yanga have in the past made some bad signings, lavishing millions of shillings on wrong players. 

The club’s hierarchy and those good wishers should better avoid being drawn into panic buying and instead look at best ways of improving the squad they already have, which is not short of quality. Yanga have already announced the signing of several players including Taifa Stars and JKT Ruvu midfielder Frank Domayo, free agent Nizar Khalfan, goalkeeper Ali Mustapha from Simba, Simon Msuva from Moro United, Mtibwa Sugar’s Said Bahanuzi and Juma Abdul. The pick of their signings, however, is Simba’s dependable defender Kelvin Yondani. Yanga snatched the centre back’s signature for a reported 30m/- signing-on fee.

Yondani was photographed signing on papers with bundles of money displayed in front of him.   The no-nonsense versatile defender, however, is said to be having a valid contract with his current club, Simba and if that is the case, then, the player will be liable for committing doubled-signing offence. Nevertheless, we leave the Yondani case to the relevant authorities.  It is the flurry of new arrivals that has raised contentious questions.

It begs a question to whether Yanga are doing sensible moves that would eventually see this oldest club build a squad capable of dominating the country’s as well as regional football for years to come or they are just spending a lot for not much. Khalfan’s arrival can be construed as a sensible move. The former Vancouver Whitecaps and Philadelphia midfielder is more that capable of stepping straight into the side and provide a wealth of experience and winning mentality that the side lacked last season.

Yondani, should the deal go through, is another player who can prove a sensational swoop for Yanga. He is such as complete central defender who can steady Yanga’s fragile defence, which was ruthlessly tormented by Emmanuel Okwi and co. in the 5-0 demolition by archrivals Simba. He has long been linked with a move to Young Africans and those associated with the Jangwani Street outfit will be chuckling their teeth having finally landed their man, if after all his transfer would go through. 

But there are still those who believe the signing of Yondani and Mustapha was born out of desperation, especially after Yanga were overshadowed by their bitter rivals, Simba during the previous season. Mustafa is unquestionably among the best goalkeepers there is in the top division, he has only been unlucky that his talent is shadowed by the presence of Juma Kaseja.  But Yanga already have three goalkeepers in their payroll.

These are Ghanaian Yaw Berko, Shaaban Kado and Said Mohamed. The last two arrived at the club last season from Mtibwa Sugar and Majimaji respectively with a lot of potential. They were both turning out for the national team, Taifa Stars.  Berko’s second season at Yanga was marred by injuries, but he is back to his best and still guaranteed the no. 1 jersey. And with Kado and Mohamed, providing good cover for the Ghanaian, it raises a few eyebrows that Yanga splashed 18m/- on Mustapha.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the other players who have been lured into the Jangwani Street-based outfit would have any impact at the club. But there is every possibility that most of them will end up flopping as was the case with other previous signings like Nsa Job, Julius Mrope, Robert Jama Mba, few but to mention. Where do Yanga  actually need to strengthen to become major force in Tanzania again?

Arguably, the area which needs strengthening the most is winger positions. For years Yanga’s play has thrived on pace and technically gifted wing players, just to mention few,  Abubakar Salum, Sanifu Lazaro, Edibily Lunyamila, Said Maulidi, Bernard Mwalala and Mrisho Ngassa. Yanga has arguably been very narrow playing side since the departure of Ngassa who used to bombard down the flanks and create the havoc in the opposition’s box with constant crosses and intelligent runs.

Most will agree that Yanga has lacked his kind of player. Shamte Ali would probably have stepped on Ngassa’s footsteps had it not been his persistent injuries. Mrope and Nsa Job were brought in cited as replacements for Ngassa but no one proved to be in same class as the Azam FC’s prodigy.  Kostadin Papic and his predecessor Sam Timbe were most often last season forced to use midfield players like Nurdini Bakari, Rashid Gumbo, Haruna Niyonzima, right fullback Godfrey Taita and striker Hamis Kiiza in wide positions, but rarely did they prove effective same way Ngassa used to be. 

Yanga need to desperately buy an excellent left and a right winger who both can simultaneously bombard the opposition’s box --players who can provide great width from either side, which the side has notably lacked in the last few years. The club should also beef up its striking force. With Ghanaian and Zambia imports Kenneth Asamoah and Davies Mwape respectively reportedly out of contract and no longer wanted by the club, Yanga have only Tegete and Kiiza to  build their team around as far as striking department is concerned. Kiiza is no doubt a top-class striker and should he remain at the club next season, he will be a key member of the squad.

But they need the old Tegete and top signing to fill in the void that will be left by Mwape and Asamoah. They have signed Bahanuzi, but time will tell if he is going to be classy signing.  And any addition in midfield or defence departments should be better than those already in the team. But they have enough quality in those areas; they just need a trainer who can use the players in the right way and try to get the best out those players. The best bit of business for Yanga, however, will be to keep hold of their best players.

The likes of Yaw Berko, Haruna Niyonzima, Hamis Kiiza, Nadir Haroub, Nurdin Bakari, Shadrack Nsajigwa, Juma Seif, Rashid Gumbo, Oscar Joshua, Chacha Marwa, Stephano Mwasika, Godfrey Taita, and Shamte Ali. They also invested in some finest young players last year like Kado, Idrissa Senga, Omega Seme, Abuu Ubwa and Salum. These will obviously get maturity and authority into their game if they are given more playing time.

But the most important thing for the club is now to appoint a coach as his opinion will also have to be taken in the whole process of rebuilding the squad. Former Taifa Stars coach Marcio Maximo recently looked overwhelming favourite to be installed as the new Yanga coach, but the deal has remained unclear.   Whoever is, the club is planning to hire, it has to be now so that he can start building the squad for the forthcoming CECAFA Kagame Cup and the new Premier League season in two months time.

...The Kilimanjaro Twins, revolutions and Granpa


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