Nabi under pressure to lead Yanga out of the wilderness

24Sep 2021
Michael Mwebe
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Nabi under pressure to lead Yanga out of the wilderness

YOUNG Africans SC, alias Yanga, and Nasreddine Nabi appeared to be the perfect fit but now the Tunisian coach is under pressure following the club's poor start in the 2021/22 campaign.

Yanga's Tunisian head coach, Nasreddine Nabi. PHOTO: COURTESY OF YANGA

The 59-year-old is being targeted by increasingly disenchanted Yanga fans following back-to-back defeats against Nigeria's Rivers United FC and Zanaco of Zambia.

Yanga lost 1-0 to Rivers United FC on both legs of the 2021/22 CAF Champions League to bow out of the first preliminary round.

Previously, Yanga also lost 2-1 to Zanaco in Dar es Salaam in a friendly held in front of an expectant 60,000 crowd that had come out in numbers to celebrate the 'Wananchi Day.'

The Green and Yellow side was the top spender in Mainland Tanzania Premier League during the most recent window, forking out significant money on eleven new arrivals. But that outlay has not led to immediate results.

Outsiders might think it is too early but the reality is that Yanga is a club of big expectations.

There is no breathing space to learn on the job, to try and figure out what works and what does not work. If something does not succeed straight away, there is pressure and urgency.

Both the coach and the club’s transfer business should not be judged until all of the players can be called upon.

The Tunisian can point to extenuating factors for the disappointing start to this season like losing key players due to administrative issues.

New signings, Djuma Shaban, Khalid Aucho, and Fiston Mayele, were brought to bolster the squad with the CAF Champions League in mind but unfortunately were sidelined due to lack of International Transfer Certificates.

There have also been injuries to the likes of David Bryson and Yassin Mustapha, while Mapinduzi Balama continues to ramp up his fitness following a long injury layoff that saw him miss out on the whole of last season football.

Against Rivers United FC, Nabi had just Heritier Makambo and Yusuph Athuman available upfront.

Their lack of firepower was seen as they did not get a shot on target until the last 10 minutes of the first leg encounter at Dar es Salaam's Benjamin Mkapa Stadium.

The circumstances do not fully excuse Yanga’s poor performances, of course, but the scale of the disruption- heightened by the pre-season chaos- does at least provide some mitigation for a coach under mounting pressure.

One truth of football remains simple, though. Any situation can be saved with convincing results. Nabi needs to win his next two games.

Meetings with Simba SC in Community Shield tie tomorrow and Kagera Sugar in the Jangwani Street outfit's 2021/22 Mainland Premier League first match could hardly have come at a worse time for Nabi but they also present an opportunity to galvanize a frustrated fanbase and can buy him redemption.

The Community Shield offers him an opportunity to land Yanga’s first silverware in four seasons.

The squad will then hit the road to Bukoba to face Kagera Sugar in their first league game of the season on Wednesday next week.

Yanga's Acting Secretary-General, Simon Patrick, has suggested that under-fire boss Nabi's job is safe at the moment and he will not be judged based on three games. The hope is that the club put their dismal start to the season behind them.

What is most important to Nabi, though, is that the squad available to him in the league and Community Shield will look very different from the one he was forced to use in the CAF Champions League.

In all fairness, he should only be judged once his much-changed squad is up to full fitness and available for selection.

Nabi can conceivably pick his strongest defense from now on, assuming Bryson is deemed ready for a swift introduction, so there can be no excuses for any more below-par displays like the ones against Rivers United FC.

He must show he can bring discipline and resilience in the defensive performances and there is a need for drastic improvement at the other end of the pitch too. Makambo and Mayele should offer the much-needed bite in attack.

Top Stories