The quarterfinals of the 2012 Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) club championship, popularly known as Kagame Cup, get under way in Dar es Salaam today.
All four Tanzanian teams taking part in the regional tournament – Azam, Mafunzo, Simba and Young Africans (Yanga) – have qualified for this stage and, as we savour the achievement, we wish them all the best.
We do so knowing that only two of them will make the semifinals, the reason being that two of the quarterfinal duels will pit Yanga against Mafunzo and Azam against Simba.
The games have reached a stage where cannot afford to spoil the broth, particularly in that all three of the seven teams to have fallen by the wayside at the early preliminary stages of the championship are foreign.
Tanzanian soccer fans should temporarily forget whatever difference they may have and instead boost the players featuring for the homes sides by coming together in cheering them.
Given the nature of the quarterfinals fixture, Tanzania is sure to be represented by two teams at the semifinal stage of the lucrative tournament – and possibly right through to the final on Saturday.
Simba and Yanga have between them won ten titles since the tournament was inaugurated in 1974. Snatching more silverware will do the teams and the nation really proud.
In the circumstances, Tanzanian soccer fans would be well advised to appreciate for them to make good use of the rare home ground advantage in prestigious tournaments of this nature.
Should one of our teams win the Kagame Cup title, that will be for the second time Tanzania will have grabbed the trophy back-to-back on home soil – and what a feat! Thus, fans should behave befittingly regardless of the traditional fanaticism setting them apart.
In whatever circumstances, there is no defence for cheering a foreign team, as that would by no means do us any good.
It has always been rare for Simba or Yanga fans to cheer “the wrong Tanzanian team” – meaning either rival, particularly after one of the sides has lost or has been eliminated. But love for one’s country always ought to prevail over all other parochial considerations.
Retaining the Kagame Cup will certainly be a big boost to our soccer, given how hard we have been struggling to make an impression in recent years. However, teams and officials should refrain from misusing the home ground advantage merely for the sake of winning silverware.
Fairness must prevail, characterised by impartial officiating and good treatment of foreign teams and delegations. They have demonstrated a high level of sporting behaviour by travelling all the way to our country and should not return home disgruntled.
All teams, including officials and players, must come to terms with reality irrespective of the extent of their disillusionment with the results of their matches.
Soccer is about winning, drawing and losing and it is therefore an integral part of soccer discipline to accept any of the three outcomes with dignity.
Meanwhile, Tanzanian soccer fans should flock to all venues of the remaining encounters to cheer our teams. In sports, even merely clapping to applaud means an immense lot.