The increase in foreign coaches'number adds value to NBC PremierLeague

22Nov 2021
Nassir Nchimbi
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
The increase in foreign coaches'number adds value to NBC PremierLeague

​​​​​​​THIS season's NBC Premier League has turned out to be quite entertaining. It is a league of its kind for fans, players, and coaches, who flock to the venues to watch the tournament's ties.

Kagera Sugar head coach, Kenyan Francis Baraza. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KAGERA SUGAR FC

The domestic top flight, this time, has 16 teams, but an individual is told that out of the 16 outfits, more than half are trained by foreign coaches from 11 different countries combined with two assistant coaches.

The Guardian evaluates the coaches who flew and traveled enough miles in the air from their home countries to work in the NBC Premier League.

Pablo Franco (Spain)

Franco was introduced as Simba SC head coach on November 6, signing a two-year contract to replace Frenchman Didier Gomes who left the club on October 26 after being eliminated from the African Champions League by Botswana's Jwaneng Galaxy.

The first club for Pablo to lead as head coach was Santa Eugenia of (Spain), after which he coached the CD Illescas team.

In the 2013/14 season he joined CD Puertollano (Spain), in 2015 he landed with Getafe CF of the Spanish Premier League ‘La Liga’ and his last club is Georgia-based Saburtalo Tbilisi.

Franco has so far not been able to sit on the bench and lead Simba SC in a competitive match, let alone a practice match without his full squad at the Boko Veterans ground, where they were held to a 2-2 draw against Cambiasso Sports Academy.

Thierry Hitimana (Rwanda)

The coach's first job in the country was with Biashara United FC later Namungo FC  that parted ways with him last year, resulting in his return to Rwanda.

Before this season kicked in, he was linked with a return to NBC Premier League with Mtibwa Sugar before making a u-turn to seal a contract with Simba SC which used him as head coach in the CAF Champions League after the former club's coach, Gomes, lacked criteria to lead the team in the continental ties.

Simba was eliminated in the second preliminary leg of the CAF Champions League and the management decided to sack Gomes and remain with Hitimana as caretaker coach and later served as an assistant to Martin.

Hitimana as a caretaker coach has led Simba to three league matches, starting with a fixture against Polisi Tanzania, in which Simba cruised to 1-0 victory, a 0-0 draw with Coastal Union, and a 1-0 win over Namungo FC.

Nasreddine Nabi  (Tunisia/Belgium)

The arrival of coach Nabi, who has dual citizenship of Tunisia and Belgium, at Yanga has brought many changes, ranging from playing style, systems, and discipline to

He has not been in the squad for a long time but he has managed to make big changes that have brought the competition and helped the team finish second in the Mainland Premier League last season, with the tactician leading the team to a Community Shield glory this season against Simba.

The 56-year-old joined Yanga from Al Merreikh SC of Sudan and has previously coached such clubs as Al Ahly SC, Al Hilal Sports Club, Ismaily SC.

Nabi has won five league matches with Yanga this season, edging Kagera Sugar 1-0, beating Geita Gold FC (1-0), KMC FC (2-0), Azam FC (2-0), and Ruvu Shooting (3-1).

The tactician achieved the feat with the help of the assistant coach, Cedrick Kaze, a Burundian national.

Cedric Kaze  (Burundi)

He is Nabi's assistant at Yanga. He is no stranger to the Premier League as he already coached Yanga when he took over the reins of Zlatko Krmpotic, who was sacked on October 3 by Yanga's management, which alleged the coach did not conform to the team's philosophy.

On March 7 Yanga parted ways with coach Kaze, who previously signed a two-year contract on October 16, 2020, along with his assistant, Nizar Halfan, goalkeeping coach, Burundian Vladimir Niyonkuru, and club security officer, Mussa Mahundi.

Later on September 20, Yanga has brought Kaze back as an assistant coach and led Yanga along with Nabi, winning all five league games.

George Lwandamina (Zambia)

He is a veteran in coaching at the age of 57. He started coaching various teams in Zambia from the 1984/85 season when he coached Mutondo Stars, then moved to Mufulira Blackpool, Mufulira Wanderers, Green Buffaloes, Kabwe Warriors, Zambia senior national team, on an interim basis, 2011–2014, Red Arrows FC, Zesco United, and Tanzania side Yanga 2018–2020.

This season, he has led Azam FC in five NBC Premier League matches so far vs Coastal Union (1-1), lost to Polisi Tanzania (2-1), edge Namungo FC (1-0), lost to Yanga (2-0) and cruised to 1-0 victory over Geita Gold FC.

Patrick Odhiambo (Kenya)

He is a newcomer to the NBC Premier League, taking over the reins of fellow Kenyan, Francis Baraza, who joined Kagera Sugar after leading Biashara United for the better part of the season.

The former assistant coach at Kenya's Gor Mahia reportedly signed a two-year deal with Biashara United and led the team to the Orange CAF Confederation cup, before the club was eliminated for failure to play the return match scheduled to take place in Tripoli, Libya.

The former Sony Sugar tactician’s main objective is to ensure the team finishes in the fourth position and build a formidable and competitive squad for this ongoing season.

So far he has led Biashara United for five games, the club started with a goalless draw against Simba SC, lost to Ruvu Shooting (1-0), won (3-0) against Tanzania Prisons, drew 0-0 with Mbeya City FC, and drew 1-1 with Mbeya Kwanza FC.

Francis Baraza (Kenya)

He gain popularity when he was at Biashara United. He left and joined Kagera Sugar which was in danger of facing relegation last season and managed to rescue them to remain in the Premier League.

He took over the reins of the team whilst in a state of disarray after the side had decided to fire coach Mecky Mexime.

This season has started badly after his team played five matches with a loss to Yanga (1-0), 1-1 draw with Namungo FC, 0-0 with Mbeya City FC, two wins vs Mtibwa Sugar (1-0), and 1 -0 vs KMC FC.

Haruna Harerimana (Burundi)

He is no stranger to Tanzanian football as before he joined Mbeya Kwanza FC as he started coaching Lipuli FC and later joined KMC FC.

Harerimana had joined Lipuli FC after coach Amri Said was sacked by the team's management due to poor results.

He has led the Mbeya Kwanza FC team in five games opening with Mtibwa Sugar winning the game (1-0), drawing with Mbeya City FC (2-2), drawing with Dodoma Jiji FC (0-0) drawing 1-1 with Biashara United and a 2-2 draw against Polisi Tanzania.

Mathias Lule (Uganda)

On December 2, 2020, Mbeya City FC officially announced Mathias Lule from Uganda as the outfit's head coach. The A-licensed coach has guided the club and helped them avoid the tragedy of relegation.

He has led Mbeya City FC in five matches so far, starting with a 1-0 win over Tanzania Prisons, 2-2 draw with Mbeya Kwanza FC, (0-0) vs Kagera Sugar, (1-1) vs Geita Gold FC and (0-0) vs Biashara United.

Melis Medo (USA)

His first side in Tanzania was Gwambina FC, he hardly had a good stint at the side as the tactician was sacked and later joined Coastal Union.

It is his first season at Coastal Union and he has not started well after seeing the squad manage a 1-1 draw vs Azam FC, concede 1-0 defeat to Ruvu Shooting, followed by three draws with KMC FC, Simba, and Prisons.

Joseph Omog (Cameroon)

Mtibwa coach hired Omog, a veteran of the league, started coaching Tanzanian football successfully leading Azam FC to the 2013/14 Premier League title without losing a match and later served Simba and won the 2017 Azam Confederation Cup.