16 February 2013

Tanzania: This I Believe

"The Lions now eat grass you know?" went Mzee Mamuya. With one sentence he cracked us all up. And the conversation amidst drinks and bites after a tough sports session particularly tipped to prepare Wazee Club ahead of the Kilimanjaro marathon swerved to last Wednesday's encounter.

It was understood the Indomitable Lions had lost their canines and could no longer hunt goals and victory. Hongera Taifa Stars for beating the Lions 1-0. Who could have believed this could happen? Yet from this column, in the last edition, we had urged Taifa stars to beat the Lions. Mbwana Samatta from TP Mazembe in neighboring Congo, heard our appeal and scored the critical goal! You made Tanzania proud, you know? Endelea hivyo hivyo and we have a date in 2022 Qatar FIFA. That is the way forward.

There are a few lessons to learn, be it from the Taifa Stars or from the Super Eagles. Who wants to learn from failures? Please give me a break! When we have nothing to do, we will learn from the .......l had better save my breath. First of all, it is clear that African coaches can do a great job if they are backed by the state and not remote-controlled by the Sports Minister of the same state or bribe-beaten by the players who earn 100 times their meager salaries! Keshi has gone down as the guy who has lifted the continental trophy as captain and as coach. It is possible.

Secondly, never write any nation out, before the stadium lights are out. If any team, small and inexperienced as it may be, is united and well groomed from the grassroots over time, such small teams will make it big. Ask Cape Verde. Si ndiyo Burkina Faso? Of course Nigeria combined all of these, and made it to the podium in grand style. Re-wind and admire the goal they scored in the final! With that beautiful goal, Mba Sunday made my day, a real Sunday!

There is no doubt that the feasting and celebrations in Nigeria dragged far into the wee hours of Monday. Imagine 160 000 000 supporters celebrating. Certainly traffic was more fluid as many who had gone to bed late could not rise to pursue their daily chores in Africa's most populated nation.

When Captain Joseph Yobo lifted the most coveted trophy of the continent, after 19 years of wandering in the wilderness of failure marked by internecine quarrels within the national federation, corruption sagas, and a spate of foreign and national coaches at the helm of the team, Nigeria had bounced back on the stage. And what a come back! Success is as beautiful as failure is painful. You don't want to trade the former for the latter. But if you have never known victory, how can you miss it? No wonder my brothers were bent on watching Rugby or Man Utd when the entire continent focussed on South Africa.

Well, whether you celebrated with the Super Eagles as they soared high on Sunday night or lamented with the Stallions of Burkina Faso, you have to rise and catch your dala dala tomorrow to work or to the farm. It is all over. AFCON 2013 has come and gone, and life must continue.

If you lost your voice shouting or got your phone stolen in the euphoria of a match you have only yourself to blame. None of the players knows you. None will send you M-Pesa. None will forward airtime to your phone. So please do not flash me. Anyway, you will be running down your battery for nothing for am presently off to borrow some money to pay my TANESCO bill and charge my phone. And I begin to wonder why I spent my time clapping for strangers called footballers earning pounds and dollars while I had no money... ........

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