Today, Africa will witness the Africa Cup of Nations final, which for many soccer observers involves King David and Goliath, when Zambia’s national team will play against Ivory Coast’s star-studded national side.
As one observer put it, “the cream of African football's Europe-based aristocracy will meet with a robust Africa-based challenge. Of the Chipolopolo squad, only the superb young goal-scorer, Emmanuel Mayuka of Young Boys Berne, plays his club football in Europe.”
Whichever way we put it, the truth is that Zambia has reached the final stages about 18 years since they last played the Africa Cup of Nations final, after losing an entire gifted national squad in a fatal plane accident in 1992.
The lesson we learn here is that it’s possible for Tanzania as well as any East African country to reach where Zambia, our neighbours have reached as long as we have good managers in our football federation and the national team.
The question many have been asking is why not Tanzania? Three decades without playing the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations and we still have people calling themselves managers of our football? Do we really need them after they have failed to make this country shine in various international football tourneys, especially the Africa Cup of Nations?
Our football today is in a pathetic situation with the Premier league dominated by corruption, poor management and lack of professionalism as well as losing the best talents. Our managers are just busy with quarrels, mismanagement of resources and they pretend not to see how our football standards have declined.
The Tanzanian first division league of 1992 was better in terms of talents and the quality of football than what we call today the Premier league, though in those days the government had no interest in helping our football.
The First Division league in those days was dominated by a few Asian traders like Mohamed Dewji, Murtaza Dewji, the late Abbas Gulamali and Ahmed Bora, but still, there was definitely a better game than what we have today.
What’s appalling is that at a time when we have a President of the United Republic who cares and loves football, we still can’t utilise that opportunity by identifying, recruiting and retaining the best talents for our national team as well as various football clubs in the country.
We ousted the previous management that used to manage our football under the chairmanship of Muhidin Ndolanga and replaced it with the one led by our football icon, Leodgar Tenga, but we are still in a pathetic situation in the game domestically and internationally.
If the current management that gave more hope to this country has failed to improve our football, do we still need it? If it has failed to establish a good Premier league in the country do we still expect anything from it? It has failed to try and convince the government to bid for hosting the Africa Cup of Nations finals in future.
Why not Tanzania? Who said we don’t have the infrastructure? Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Zanzibar can manage the Africa Cup of Nations provided that Kirumba and Amani stadia are renovated to support our current $40 million national stadium facility.
Mwanza has excellent hotels and so does Zanzibar. These hotels can accommodate African teams as well as travelling football fans. Dar es Salaam has many upmarket hotels, and we have hosted various international events including the giant World Economic Forum.
But still we have managers who believe that Tanzania can’t host the Africa Cup of Nations finals or they just don’t see the potential that we have as a nation. Either they are naïve of the potential we have as a country or they are just dumb managers.
We are informed that the Tanzania Football Federation has never approached the government with this idea, and never indeed saw it as a practical scenario. They have fallen in the trap of those who believe that this country at the age of 50 can’t host teams from 16 African nations.