The dream dies     

02Jul 2019
Lloyd Elipokea
The Guardian
The dream dies     

AND so, here we are at the end of the road. Deflated, demoralized, and even broken-hearted.

Taifa Stars players participate in training in Egypt recently.

After all, the Taifa Stars’ two losses thus far have sadly assured us of almost certain elimination from continental football’s equivalent of the World Cup finals in the AFCON Finals.

Thus, while not wishing to infuriatingly re-state the patently obvious, it would be crystal clear to anyone in proper control of their faculties that since the Taifa Stars will come home with didley squat, this automatically means that we are well-justified to mope around and remain stubbornly in the dumps for as long as each one of us sees fit.

That painting of the picture sounds just about right, doesn’t it?

Indeed, to this writer, a considerable chunk of this argument sounds utterly convincing.

However, despite the merits of the argument that I just laid out, what if there were a more encouraging and even hopeful way of looking at the Stars’ unfortunate elimination from Africa’s most prominent and globally renowned festival of football?

Indeed, to this writer, despite the doom and gloom which has understandably filled the hearts of the country’s populace, there is much more to be hopeful for even in spite of the Stars’ admittedly premature and morale-sapping elimination from continental football’s showpiece event.

To begin with, all glum-faced Tanzanian football fans seem to have forgotten one major achievement which the national team registered not too long ago.

That historic milestone was the fact that the Taifa Stars had qualified for the AFCON Finals for the first time since 1980.

That inspirational achievement seems to have escaped the attention of all of us.

Granted, while we are well within our rights to be saddened by the fact that matters have definitely not unfolded according to the script for us, we should still nevertheless never forget to continually train our gaze on this fact even in spite of the deep sorrow which has enveloped us all.

Secondly, another realization which we should strive to constantly bear in mind is the fact that such landmark sporting firsts rarely happen in isolation for any country participating in any sport for that matter.

As an example that vividly illustrates this assertion, let us examine the Toronto Raptors’ recent crowning as NBA champions, which raised eye-brows around the world seeing as of course that they are a Canadian team.

For many sports supporters, who perhaps have only followed America’s premier basketball league, the NBA, from a distance, the Toronto Raptors’ fantastical victory must seem like it occurred wholly out of the blue.

However, to fans who have enjoyably labored to keep abreast of developments in the NBA for many years, there were a few signs in the not-too-distant past that Canadian basketball was quietly undergoing massive improvement.

Indeed, for this writer, one fact which occurred in the past that illustrated that there was definitely more to Canadian basketball than meets the eye was the emergence of the Canadian guard and assists-king, Steve Nash.

Unquestionably, Nash’s remarkable and at times even uncanny talent to find a teammate in open play was so admired in the NBA that it helped the Canadian guard to win two Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in two consecutive seasons while he was starring for the Phoenix Suns.

Similarly, as I noted earlier in this commentary, there were tell-tale indicators here as well that our domestic football scene was in the process of stepping up to another higher standard.

The earliest sign of this came in 2011 when a certain Mbwana Samatta was deemed good enough to be signed by renowned DRC heavyweights, TP Mazembe.

The next sign came around 2016 when the talismanic Samatta won the CAF Best Player Award for home-based players on the continent, which was a feat that had never before happened in the history of our football.

In 2017, the Serengeti Boys successfully qualified for the U-17 AFCON Finals, which was yet another first and perhaps the last in my series of monumental signs was that fella again Samatta being crowned as the Best African Player in the Belgian Super-league for last season.

Thus, to reiterate the hopeful tone which I have attempted to strike throughout this commentary, let us all try to maintain a sense of perspective while we are walking around with bowed heads and heavy faces!