Simba SC would not listen to Yanga coach Gamondi to avoid seeking revenge

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 07:00 AM Apr 20 2024
Simba SC striker Kibu Denis negotiates his way past Yanga defenders during the NBC Premier League match at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on November 5, 2023. Yanga won 5-1.
Simba SC striker Kibu Denis negotiates his way past Yanga defenders during the NBC Premier League match at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on November 5, 2023. Yanga won 5-1.

MIND games are vibrant among the city rivals ahead of a nervous and tense derby, also risking to be drenched in rain without necessarily daunting the fans at Dar es Salaam’s Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, alias Lupaso Arena, late in the afternoon.

A notable intervention ahead of the derby was a remark by Young Africans SC head coach Miguel Gamondi that the opponents have to come to the pitch to win, not to take revenge for the 5-1 beating they suffered not so long ago.

Was he either airing positive advice for Simba SC or dissuading them from the task?

For one thing, if this affirmation had been given by the Msimbazi Street side assistant coach Suleiman Matola, it would have been easier to say he meant what he said, not to speak of head coach Abdelhak Benchikha himself.

When it comes from an opponent it is either of two things, whether he genuinely believes in a positive spirit to any game to win, or he is worried about how to play to the positive result of an archrival firing from all cylinders. It is a fly-whisk idea.

Soccer pundits in at least one radio station program- who discussed this remark- were on the whole under the impression that the coach was talking football, such that the idea of emotion in a match ruins the head, that is, technique.

Yet, some veteran fans were lamenting that, in the past, players used to cry when their side was defeated in a derby, whereas, at present, the well-paid players hug and laugh after a drubbing as they have no passion for the team, just doing a job.

Gamondi implicitly wishes to see the opponents’ side full of players who will be on the job, not passionate ones.

In that case, he was right, dissuading the opponent from putting everything into the game and not merely playing the game in a ‘business as usual’ fashion, in which the Jangwani Street side has an advantage.

If Msimbazi Street outfit’s players are passionate about the game, Yanga players are the ones who will be ‘playing to win’ and not vehemently seeking to extend dominance over their next-street rivals.

Thus, if the Argentinian tactician was making a prediction, it would be of his own game and not that of opponents, for the side needs nothing less than revenge.

To lay the ground for an emotional encounter, reports talk of a face-to-face meeting between Benchikha and Mo Dewji, honorary president and the soul of the team, a meeting that casts a shadow over current plans and tone of leadership.

It was more than needed as the leadership has taken a back seat to the club's woes, just throwing either a barb or two that Mo is holding back cash. He wants to change the club.

One indication is reliable reports that Mo is asking Barbara Gonzales to take the reins again at the club, and she has indicated that she wants not one or two people to go but, seemingly, work under the club investor directly.

Another impression is that she takes over as board chairperson and picks a CEO from South Africa to work with Mo; days of the cooperative union at Msimbazi are numbered.

That also means the derby will be watched by at least two of this team along with the head coach, to get a shape of the club as the new season is being prepared.

In other words, there is not just revenge being placed on the pitch as the encounter begins at five but the future of several players is also at stake, just as the job of the coach may also be at issue, though this is far-flung and not visibly on the table.

When a player knows that confirmation as a club player is tied up with the derby, as the sponsor-cum-investor is unlikely to bring another humiliation, it is evident that the players will be out to show they have something, and are perhaps even the best. It will be a hard climb but not just coming to win, business as usual.

Meanwhile, there is a laughable video being aired each passing day as to whether anyone shall ever score three goals in a derby to equal the record of former Simba SC attacker, Abdallah Kibadeni ‘King Kibadeni Mputa’, set back in 1977.

Surprisingly, the Msimbazi Street outfit’s maestro has believed that lie all his life, that a full-blown Yanga, not just a side that wore its jerseys, was struck 6-0 in 1977.

The current youths and even a range of adults do not recall the situation at the time where disputes at Jangwani Street outfit led to the team splitting, and more than a dozen players left to form Pan African FC.

The derby was held before the side had reconstituted, in which case the recent drubbing at 5-1 was more convincing.

Something was surprising about Mputa's remark - that if a player wants to equal his record, he should go and see him.

Well, here is the advice – wait until there is club disarray and squad split, and before the side is reorganized, hold a derby and the usual best player might admittedly score a hat-trick.

It is as laughable as the other spurious hat trick by Feisal Salum when the other side, from Tabora, had eight players on the pitch – and astonishingly the soccer rule book says ‘Play on.’