What the Morrison saga with SimbaSC shows on talent growth,recruitment

23Jun 2020
Michael Eneza
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
What the Morrison saga with SimbaSC shows on talent growth,recruitment

​​​​​​​A tug of war is being orchestrated on a possible shift to presumptive Premier League champions, Simba SC, of Ghanaian striker Bernard Morrison who was recruited by Yanga a few months ago and has for a while emerged as the goal hope of the side.

Yanga winger, Bernard Morrison (front) and central defender, Kelvin Yondani, take part in the outfit's recent drills, which took place in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO; COURTESY OF YANGA

When he is not around for any reason, fans and analysts don’t sit to see what other combination can work but are rather given to count their woes already, as it doesn’t appear he has an equivalent in the archrivals’ forward line. His goal against Simba , which won the match, saved the Jangwani Street club from a potentially dreadful season to more of a smarting experience, decidedly.

What is unclear is why at this stage, well before the closure of the season, there is a jostling match between the city giants on the signature of the Ghanaian premier league superstar, and whether this is the best recruitment tactic that the premier league is familiar with. Ordinarily one seeks a good player who has no number in an equivalent or better club, in which case when Donald Ngoma could not be assured of a starting lineup position he moved to Azam FC, and it appears the same situation has cropped up there as well. In that case there are indications that he is shifting to Namungo FC, which definitely makes sense.

Alternatively, if any of the city sides and others in the premier league have some hefty amounts of cash to spare, they can look across the border – even as far away as Ghana or Brazil in recent years – to obtain talented players at prices they can afford. Quite a few Tanzania premier league superstars have often been recruited from within the sub-region, eastern and central Africa like Emmanuel Okwi, Heritier Makambo, Haruna Niyonzima or Meddie Kagere. In that sense the idea of recruiting a player from a rival club who faces no first team problems and definitely not expected to leave anytime soon is close to a sabotage wish.

These reports are coming up on the back of other disquieting developments in the recent past, including charges of Msimbazi Street club officials wishing to ‘bribe’ Yanga players that a player bubbled about the matter in broad daylight without fear of reprisals. Eventually a high club official made some assertions that could be classified in like manner, but unlike the player, he was pushed to retract and apologise, as ‘he is an honorable man’ thus he could have faced disciplinary steps at a higher level. Then player switch chatter started reverberating, first with Yanga captain Papy Tshishimbi and now the dependable striker.

This low level guerrilla warfare not just of recruiting good players in the premier league to appear for the big moneybags side at Msimbazi Street inhospitable to good practices of premier league management, it also bespeaks of a certain domination of the league by one club at the moment. Part of the reason is that only the premier league title is worth fighting for, as the runner up slot has no continental commitment in the wake of imitating the England FA formula of the federation cup winners being the second competitor in continental tourneys. This situation has watered down the premier league tournament and ought to be changed so as to add vim and vigour to the competition, as it enables continued competition at CAF stage.

While this rule as to who competes in the CAF Confederation Cup did not emanate from local sports bodies, they don’t appear to have worked hard enough at least to obtain an exemption from the rule. The side that wins the sponsored federation cup would as well be assured of a place in CECAFA Club Championship run if that needs qualification, that the team would automatically qualify for the run. It could also automatically be listed for Mapinduzi Cup or any other, but ought not overshadow the premier league second slot rights.

At the same time this foreign player contention within the city rivals amphitheater tells plenty about the ministerial appeal to reduce players appearing for the premier league sides to five in registration and three on the pitch. The argument was to enable local players to obtain more playing time, thus building a good Taifa Stars side, and now we see the clubs fighting over a few good foreign professionals in the clubs and there are no talents on the horizon who can fill their gaps in either club. The minister recommends local players merely for the label, while coaches or club managements must examine who can actually deliver.

Thus the fighting over the two or three professionals that the premier league top underdogs dispose is an indication that local recruitment to fill key gaps in top premier line ups is an unworkable policy, whatever ministerial bigwigs shall say about that. At the same time the removal of the second slot from continental competition has drained financing rivalry as only the title winners stand an outside chance of recovering their cash, but CAF introduced some other unfortunate measure of pre-tournament re-selection instead of going to groups. So there is a mess in soccer organization, wrong choices from the local to the CAF level.