Next stage in the CAF Champions League awaited after hectic lapse

06Feb 2024
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Next stage in the CAF Champions League awaited after hectic lapse

CITY giants Young Africans SC and ambitious rivals Simba SC have a number of days before taking to the pitch to battle with Africa’s club giants in the next stage of the CAF Champions League.


What is unclear is how the various leadership levels, technical benches and fans have taken up lessons from disparate tourneys coming up in the intervening period, first the Mapinduzi Cup rum where the title remained in the Isles and some pundits are just happy to forget that episode.


What is less difficult to forget is the African Nations Cup finals, now in their late stages, with the sort of surprises that were hardly awaited by analysts.


There is also an unheralded tournament the FA Cup which has had a few lessons of its own, but some observers worry that it is giving the benefit of the doubt, or a sigh of relief to the technical benches of the city giants as their coveted 4Gs and 5Gs are by and large repeatable in the tourney.


It is results of that sort that brought the two club sides’ leaderships to believe that all was well in their squads until the start of the Champions League jolted their nerves.


The AFCON finals did not involve the city giants directly but by association, where the itinerary of Taifa Stars and the honours it obtained in an unfavourable drawn match with Zambia and an unlikely goalless draw with DRC seems to provide relief to the city sides of their chances.


The quarter-final encounter between Mali and hosts Ivory Coast for instance had fans of the Msimbazi Street side acutely hoping that the Malians exit to scroll back somewhat the praises being heaped on the Jangwani Street side due to exploits of their first-choice goalkeeper, Djigui Diarra.


Fans of the side he plays for were pitched for his greater success, while being worried that the more successful his involvement in the finals would be, the fewer the chances of keeping him in the squad as potential demand for his services would rise to fever pitch. It still is so.


It was nearly the case with Simba central defender Henock Inonga who has been consistently selected in the DRC starting lineup, with rumours afloat that he was already leaving and then soon retracted.


Officials said that only some interest was shown here and there, but no hard offer had been delivered, which can in a way be explained by the fact that the January window is closed.


The player movement had to be started before the tournament was in middle stages, or not involve AFCON at all as evaluation would have to wait until his country’s final match to be sufficient.


Changes that were conducted within that time frame related to Jean Baleke, who was on loan from TP Mazembe with rather mixed results, and then Moses Phiri, whose departure was less exclaimed in various circles as he was already eclipsed, especially by the DR Congo club departing striker.


New introductions in the city rivals’ squads were yet to be tested, or had preliminary appearances, especially in the FA Cup schedules, contributing to some showy results, from which the pundits were trying to make hay out of the results.


Yet it was clear that this was no occasion to say whether the sides have been improved with the signings, chiefly in relation to capacities required in the CAF Champions’ League group run schedule.


Two lessons emerge from the hectic interval to the return of Champions League ties, namely that it is hard to really improve the two sides, any more than it would be easy to improve any side really, without actually elevating financial provision frameworks with which clubs operate.


The more a player is remarkable the more the rival sides will seek to make use of his services, and this improving a team within the limits of a specific financial framework is a ‘toil of Sisyphus.’ It is a Greek legend of a member of the families of gods who was condemned to push a stone up a mountain, and by the time he is near the top, he slips, rolls back and has to start again. Implicitly, raising an ideal to its completion and resting is imaginary.


So the Msimbazi |Street side run a ‘double jeopardy’ of having failed to get the best of the now returned TP Mazembe player, and facing a similar problem with Clatous Chota Chama though from a different point of view. They may not have used Phiri sufficiently, but that will be seen in how his career develops from where he left off.


A similar story could be told of |Bernard Morrison at Jangwani Street side, first released and seemingly signed at Singida Big Stars, then found a new side in a bigger club as his former coach appears to have confidence in him, significantly.


An online entry where the author is usually not identified said that in a surprise move, former Yanga SC striker Morrison has returned to the football scene, reuniting with his former coach.


He has made a triumphant return to the football scene by signing with Moroccan side Association Sportive des Forces Armées Royales, usually abbreviated outside as FAR Rabat, which can in a way claim greater prestige than our city rivals.


That adds complications to evaluating his stay in Dar, and explaining why Nasreddine Nabi opted to take him to the side.