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TFF should learn from Africa finals

21st January 2013
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Editorial Cartoon

After consistent failure to qualify for the continent’s most prestigious soccer tournaments, the Africa Nations Cup finals for more than three decades, Tanzania Football Federation should ponder how best to overcome the syndrome.

To be honest, being on the sidelines of the Africa finals for a whole 33 years speaks volumes about the depth of the ravine into which Tanzanian soccer has sunk.

Tanzania qualified for its first ever continental finals in 1980 – interestingly, at the expense of current champions Zambia!

TFF officials should count for themselves how many times Zambia has qualified for the finals in the span of the 33 years let alone their title haul during the previous edition.

Outgoing TFF leaders and those wishing to vie for various posts in the federation should seriously consider how best they can take the nation to Africa’s highest soccer platform besides qualification for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year.

It is important to take a leaf from the Football Association of Zambia, most especially with respect to how that country attained the remarkable success it boasts after being blocked by Tanzania during the 1980 finals hosted by Nigeria.

Analysis should seek to discern what exactly befell our soccer, which has hung precariously on a cliff ever since the finals in Nigeria.

Questions to ask should include why our soccer peaked during the years following the war with dictator Idi Amin of Uganda but then began deteriorating until this time when we enjoy peace and harmony.

When Tanzania won the 1980 qualifier berth, the tournament format had only eight countries competing. This was contrary to the format now in use, under which the number of competitors for the same finals has doubled but Tanzania is still far from dreaming qualification berth!

Not all the national teams competing in South Africa have a really big or clear edge over Tanzania. Some, among them Algeria, are yet to win international encounters against Tanzania but are all the same regular participants in both the continental championships and the FIFA World Cup.

Tanzania has won matches over Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and lately Zambia. While we still have an opportunity to win the World Cup slot in Brazil next year, this is the time for TFF’s technical committee to get to know how our opponents in the qualifier group – Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco – fare in South Africa.

TFF officials should ‘polish’ their commitment towards the development of our soccer instead of concentrating on plans to win re-election next month.

TFF president Leodegar Tenga would have ended up a very proud Tanzanian had he led the federation for two terms of office and seen the country making it to the African Nations Cup at least once. Too bad, he has not been that lucky, despite really knowing the ropes!

Tenga was one of the players who represented Tanzania during the 1980 finals in Nigeria, and thus played in all three group stage games – against Egypt, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.

But that’s history. Soccer authorities should know that Tanzanians are thirsting for glory in the game, and not only at the local or national level. They really need to do the needful.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN