Hardly a week has passed since the world witnessed Zambia national soccer team lifting the continent’s most prestigious title in Gabon.
Zambia played brilliantly, defying all the odds, knocking down pre-tournament faviourites including four-time winners Ghana.
The team was in Dar es Salaam in 2010 when our Mainland side won the Challenge Cup for the third time in history.
Fortunately when Zambia team was wining the Nations Cup title in Libreville, the CECAFA President who is also the Tanzania Football Federation boss, Leodegar Tenga was one of the dignitaries selected by the Confederation of African Football, CAF, to watch the match from the VIP stands.
Tenga knows the prowess, history and charisma of the Zambian team since he was one of the players at the final qualifier match at the Dag Hammerskjold Stadium in Ndola to power the Taifa Stars into last eight of the Nations Cup in 1979.
Knowing the background of Zambia’s rough road to the prestigious title might be a good starting point for the TFF President to work out a plan to boost our national team’s performance in African football.
This is a wake up call to Tenga and his secretariat, be it at TFF or CECAFA to chart a plan to improve national and regional football.
Tenga admitted during an interview after his arrival from Libreville that Zambia exhibited a playing pattern which is not much different from that of other teams in the CECAFA bloc.
We have seen all efforts to guide our national team into the qualifier berth of the Nations Cup end up in frustrations since their only success in 1980.
The plan should first focus on strengthening the football infrastructure before throwing all the efforts into the search for corporate sponsorship.
Availability of playgrounds even those of the inferior type without grass is more important than having abundance of talents which is thrown in the dustbin.
It is time the football federation worked hand in glove with responsible authorities in the ministries of lands and sports in ensuring that schools have playgrounds to groom future football stars.
Efforts must also be made to improve the premier league which is tainted with favouritism when it comes to officiating matches particularly those involving Simba and Yanga teams.
Substandard league is always associated with under par players and the consequences are reflected in the national team.
Frustrated with the poor show, Tanzanian soccer fans now cheer and follow premier leagues of other countries particularly the European ones.
There is low attendance at the stadiums during league matches, crippling revenue collection for both the clubs and the federation. It is not too late however. We can send our team to South Africa for the Africa championship next year if we put hard work into the team.
There will be highs and lows for Tenga and his line-up of leaders as they set their focus on building up a team that will bring success.
TFF must be innovative and if possible Tenga must work closely with the Zambia Football Association’s president Kalusha Bwalya who is at the centre of Chipolopolo’s recent football heights.
There is no harm in seeking help as long as the request helps football development.