Tanzania: Taifa Stars - Why We Need More Friendly Matches

KENYA'S national soccer team, Harambee Stars will play five friendly matches as part of their warm up in preparation for their scheduled Afcon qualifier against Egypt on March 25th this year.

This is according to the Citizen television's news bulletin aired on Monday night this week. Out of the five matches, Harambee Stars will play two friendly matches against Taifa Stars. If you look critically at Kenya's decision to play five warm-up matches against four different teams before they meet the mighty Egyptians, you would note one important thing.

They have realised how strong the Egyptians are, hence their decision to organise five friendly matches against four different teams. As already noted, they will play two matches against their southern neighbours and three matches against three different African national soccer teams.

Their senior and experienced local coach, Ghost Mulee, knows that the only way of dealing with the mighty Egyptians is for his team to play not less than five matches against four different African teams. Two weeks ago, I wrote in these columns the need for the TFF to organise numerous friendly matches for Taifa Stars in readiness for their next Afcon qualification match away from home against Equatorial Guinea.

The federation could start with its own neighbours, countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya not to talk of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. After I wrote the article, it appears Kenyans read it and decided to draw up the five friendly matches in which Tanzania is a beneficiary as they will play twice against Kenya.

But I am just wondering whether Tanzania will organise its own matches more than the two matches they are going to play against Kenya. But knowing our federation, I'm quite sure they are not going to organise any matches and that is where we have a problem.

I have always wondered why we are lethargic whenever it comes to preparing our national soccer teams for competitive soccer tournaments. Yes, why is it always difficult for us to organise warm up friendly matches for our clubs and national soccer teams?

Whatever friendly matches we have had in the past in the course of preparing our national soccer team for competitive regional or continental soccer tournaments, more often than not, it is our neighbours who always came to our rescue. Now if we want Taifa Stars to start performing, we need to change our attitudes.

We need to start living to our responsibilities, and this ought to start with our leaders in the federation. It is their responsibility to organise adequate friendly matches for Taifa Stars. That is their work. It is not the work of the government. Of course, the government has always come to Taifa Stars' aid whenever they have had financial problems.

But the government can and has always readily come to Taifa Stars' aid if leaders in the federation play their roles to the latter. At present, I'm sorry. They have not been playing the all-important role in providing the team with adequate warm-up matches before their scheduled competitive matches which includes, among others, Afcon qualifiers.

At the moment, everyone in this country is in the ninth cloud over Simba Sports Club's success internally and externally. But we all need to ask ourselves one thing. What has led to where Simba are at the moment? The answer is very simple. Heavy investment by the investor and good, hard work. That is what has led to the club's success.

Taifa Stars can also reach to where Simba are, football wise and play the kind of football Simba are playing if leaders in the national soccer federation live to their responsibility, by providing the national soccer team with adequate warm-up matches before the team takes on its counterparts in their qualifiers.

On Monday night, I had an opportunity of watching the U-20 Afcon semifinal match between Uganda and Tunisia in Mauritania in which the former thrashed the latter by four goals to one. I have watched most of the U-20 matches since the start of the Afcon soccer tournament. But I can only say one thing. The East Africans are on another level.

Ugandans have once again made East Africa proud. After dominating the world in athletics for many years, the East Africans thought that Ugandan team have now decided to take on the Maghreb in soccer. But Ugandans have reached where they are because they have more serious club management and national soccer federations officials who live to their responsibility.

Whilst Tanzanians continued to stonewall in establishment of soccer academies, the Ugandans decided over a decade ago to change the way they prepare their players by goading their children through soccer academies. We therefore also need to change our attitudes, starting of course with our federation officials.

As I had occasion to say a few weeks ago, our team which participated in the CHAN is not a bad team if it is provided with adequate friendly matches. Change of coaches will not help Tanzania as long as we continue to resist provision of adequate friendly matches to our talented players in the national soccer team.

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