TFF must get next Taifa Stars’ coach choice right 

02Feb 2023
Michael Mwebe
Financial Times
TFF must get next Taifa Stars’ coach choice right 

TANZANIA’s senior national football team, Taifa Stars, is currently without a head coach, and the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) officials have said they are in the hunt to fill the vacancy with a new man.

Former Taifa Stars' interim head coach, Zambian Honour Janza. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TANZANIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION

Taifa Stars will have a new head coach following the departure of interim head coach, Honour Janza.

The Zambian gaffer had been appointed on an interim basis after the sacking of Danish tactician Kim Poulsen.

Poulsen was demoted to the national junior teams following Tanzania’s 1-0 home loss to Uganda in the qualifiers for the 2023 African Nations Championships (CHAN) played in Dar es Salaam in August last year.

The Danish coach was appointed in February 2021, signing a three-year deal to replace Burundian Etienne Ndayiragije in what was the former's second stint with the Taifa Stars.

Poulsen's return to the Taifa Stars' head coach role sparked a series of mixed reactions from sections of the national football team supporters and well-wishers.

While some felt the Danish was the perfect candidate for the job given the fact that he is well acquainted with both Tanzania and African football, others believed he was not the ideal candidate to take the side forward as he had not achieved anything since his exit from the country's borders.

Poulsen did okay between 2012 and 2013 but his return was not inspiring, winning just seven of his 19 matches in charge.

However, there were positives including his attempt to infuse new blood into the senior national team.

Having worked with the national U-17 team 'Serengeti Boys' class of 2017, he gave ample time to the likes of Abdulhamis Suleiman ‘Sopu’, Dickson Job, Yohana Mkomola, Nickson Kibabage, Eric Nkosi, Kelvin Nashon, Ally Msengi, Ally Hamisi Ng’anzi, Israel Mwenda, Ramadhan Kabwili, and Aboutwalib Mshery.

While Poulsen appeared to have a long-term target of building a side that would last for years, he was always going to be judged on instant results.

Unfortunately, that is the nature of modern football, it is all about now and it came as no surprise the axe fell on Poulsen.

In came Janza who was only a part-time head coach. His main job was with Namungo FC, so, for Taifa Stars, he had nothing to lose, irrespective of how the national team performed.

The national soccer body should not allow such an arrangement again– one that holds the Taifa Stars' head coach to no KPIs and account.

In the past five years, Taifa Stars has been handled by five different coaches, an average of one coach per year.

This trial and error appointment and firing approach to stop to get the country out of the current quagmire. TFF must get the next head coach choice right.

The incoming coach will be tasked with delivering Tanzania to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals slated to take place in Ivory Coast.

Taifa Stars are in the tight group that has Niger, Uganda, and Algeria. The first task for the new head coach will come in March in a double-header against Uganda’s Cranes.

Soccer stakeholders must realize that it is a difficult task for the new coach to qualify Taifa Stars for the next AFCON, especially after Poulsen drew one and lost one of his two qualifying games.

Taifa Stars need the right appointment, but is there an outstanding candidate willing to take the position?

Tanzania cannot ill-afford to gamble as it is at real risk of falling further behind. The country's FIFA ranking speaks for itself, given the country, as far as international football is concerned, is lowly ranked.

Interestingly, in the aftermath of Poulsen's failure to deliver the AFCON and CHAN tickets, there is a section of the country's football fans who have grown disillusioned with the perceived continuous hiring and firing of foreign coaches and would like to push for a return to local appointments.

As much as some people would like to see a Tanzanian tactician given a chance to take the team forward, this job should be the pinnacle for a coach who has come through the ranks in the country and worked his way into a position where he is considered for the top job, what the country needs is a very competent coach.

A coach who will help it achieve objectives and not because he is a Tanzanian or a foreigner. TFF has to pick the best man for the job, whatever his nationality.

All soccer fanatics want is a good coach. The next Taifa Stars' head coach must be strict, have a clear philosophy, and be a man of his own without taking orders from others.

He does not necessarily have to be an experienced coach but he must be one who truly understands the game, someone who will make players understand his philosophy.

The nation needs a coach who can help identify young talents by putting in place proper guidelines to scout Tanzanians both at home and abroad.