Tanzanians have a reason to smile after their national team, the Taifa Stars, climbed up Fifa rankings, leaping from number 139 to 127. This is surely a major improvement in just one month.
The improvement is an indication that the teams coach, Kim Poulsen, is doing a fine job. It must be recalled that teams climb up the rankings after winning key games and the Danish tactician has been posting better results since taking over.As we rejoice, however, it is worth remembering that we are still out of the top 100 and we still have a long way to go if we are to reclaim our rightful place up the Fifa ladder.
In the 1990s, the team made significant strides, rising to number 65 in the world. After that, it suffered accelerated free-fall, sinking to number 165 in 2003. However, matters changed for the better and the team started going up again.
Under the tutelage of Brazilian coach Marcio Maximo, the team rose to number 89 after posting respectable results against such top teams as Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ghana and Zambia.
Hopefully, this upward trend will be sustained so that before the end of the year, the team will be among the top 100 or even within the top 50. Why not?
Teams with better rankings enjoy many advantages compared to the ones ranked poorly. For instance, better ranked teams are exempted from playing preliminary knockout rounds in major qualifiers. For instance, Tanzania was forced to play Chad in the World Cup preliminary round qualifier because it was one of the poorest ranked sides. The rationale is to eliminate poor teams from group rounds.
Good enough, Tanzania prevailed and qualified for the group round, where it was pooled alongside the Gambia, Morocco and Ivory Coast.TFF should now create best conditions for the team to win and enjoy the benefits. Lest we forget, Britain does not grant work permits to players from countries ranked out of top 60.
This means no matter how good our players can be; playing in the English Premier League is out of reach due to their poor ranking.
But the latest improvement shows that the team is progressing steadily and we hope the trend will be sustained.