For its first appearance in the tournament reaching the quarter finals was a satisfactory achievement, despite that pundits retained slim hopes of pulling a surprise against Bafana Bafana. It also shows that not having a foreign coach for the national side isn’t fatal, that at times we have talent we haven’t really appreciated.
There is also a hidden aspect in the way Salum Mayanga has guided his team in the Southern Africa championship, namely in making a call up of international Thomas Ulimwengu but resting his first line colleague Mbwana Samatta, easily the most well known figure in the side. The position the Genk FC player occupies in the side is close to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal or Lionel Messi for Argentina - and it isn’t every good player who gets such a niche place in the national team. While the coach hasn’t exactly explained his squad choices, he has achieved something in the gamble on Samatta.
Mayanga has been able to demonstrate that Taifa Stars can win something or reach advanced stages of a tournament without the necessary presence of the Genk FC player, which adds confidence in the other members of the team. There is for instance the higher profile of Ulimwengu in this squad, as could also be the case for Simon Msuva or Shiza Kichuya, both glittering names in the Mainland premier league. And that is as it should be, as no team reaches heights of success owing to the brilliance of any single player as without capable team mates he won’t get the balls to score, nor would his passes be made right use of.
Whatever the ultimate result of the Bafana clash, Taifa Stars players and the coach have every reason to smile and to be congratulated by all sports lovers for a job well done, as the chances that we reach the quarters weren’t to be taken for granted. Still it is clear that the talent is there, competition is rising in the Mainland premier league as the top sides have been able to attract a number of internationals from within the region and at times well beyond, of differing significance in their national sides. But it must be clearly admitted that within the region our premier league is competitive when it comes to attracting players, and despite the hiccup about the special tournament to get a team to meet Everton FC from England, there is really nothing to frown about concerning our leading clubs. And the others too put up spirited contention.