Yanga's complicated goalkeeper situation

17Jun 2021
Michael Mwebe
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Yanga's complicated goalkeeper situation

WE are about to enter an important offseason leading into a crucial 2021/22 season, there are plenty of areas to address for Yanga.

Yanga's goalkeeper, Metacha Mnata. PHOTO: COURTESY OF YANGA

Whether it is contract extensions, free-agent targets, or statement purchases, the Yanga front office has a lot of things on its tray.

Big decisions are coming for the Green and Yellow. One area that is going to be bolstered is the goalkeeping department as we head to the pre-season.

In football, most clubs follow a formula with their three goalkeepers.

There will be the first choice, then usually an older but very capable backup, and then there will either be a much older player or a youth player.

However, for Yanga, this formula has remained more or less broken in the past three seasons.

They have three goalkeepers, Metacha Mnata, Faroukh Shikalo, and Ramadhan Kabwili.

Neither Mnata nor Shikalo can claim to be the outright number one amid a strange rotation policy.

In two years, Shikalo has made 31 appearances for Yanga, including nine this season while his rival has 48 games under his belt.

Youngster Kabwili has not played a match this season and that is unlikely to change.

The season is almost at an end and the Yanga goalkeeping situation remains unresolved.

Perhaps one of the more confusing elements of Yanga’s next season plans is what they choose to do with the goalkeepers.

Both Metacha Mnata and Farouk Shikalo are out of contract at the end of this campaign.

Like the team in general, both have not enjoyed the best 2020/21 season and there are lingering doubts over their future at the club.

Yanga will have one of two options on the table. They can retain both goalkeepers, a highly unlikely situation.

The other option is to buy a new goalkeeper who can challenge Mnata more directly as Shikalo is allowed to go as a free agent.

Each goalkeeper has a status and a salary that demands they are recognized as number one.

Mnata is a national team player for Tanzania while Shikalo feels he did not cross the border from Kenya to come and be a cover-up for a local player.

Common sense suggested that Mnata would be the best bet to be given a new deal, given he is a local player and has made more appearances than Shikalo.

The expectation was for Shikalo to be the first choice when both were signed in the 2019/20 season but many fans remain unconvinced by the Kenyan goalkeeper and have seen Mnata perform at levels that have him considered by some as the best at the club.

For now, the chances of Mnata leaving are slim, so Shikalo will have to look elsewhere.

It is easy to imagine Yanga has started looking for potential replacements.

Mnata might have the upper hand on Shikalo but he also has a significant number of doubters which means the club could be realistically looking for a new high-profile option that can be relied on long-term.

There is a strong feeling, though, that any signing of a goalkeeper would not be for huge money, as they would be keen to open up funds for positions further up the field.

The verdict here is that there is evidence to suggest Yanga will sign a new goalkeeper to replace or challenge Mnata who is likely to stay or in the unlikely scenario, Shikalo is retained.

However it pans out, it is clear Yanga are facing many questions and uncertainties in the coming transfer window, but perhaps none are as complicated as those regarding their goalkeeping situation.

Yanga needs one goalkeeper and perhaps two, depending on who they retain among the three choices in that position.

Their recruitment plans for the position are not simple either.

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