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Thinking of new friendlies, not CAF, FIFA rituals

4th March 2012
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An idea is emerging among some soccer enthusiasts or perhaps a few analysts as well, that it might be more helpful if we abandon membership of continental and world soccer organizations and instead focus our energies on regional soccer, and some friendly tours from time to time.

The reason is that about six years since strenous efforts started to improve national team level, as well as quite a few years that the leading club sides in Dar es Salaam employ professional coaches from outside, the results are still dismal. The past week was a funeral rite for local soccer, all but one club side poised to crash out.

Comparing this scenario with the hopes that had started being built over the past half decade, it is a sort of rude awakening that nothing has changed in local soccer, that by and large we are still learners and starters when it comes to continental soccer.

There were of course some good moments as for instance when we held on our own against Algeria, who ordinarily have no fear of the Pharaohs of Egypt, who along with their leading club sides like Zamalek and National Al Ahly are a terror to the psyche of the national soccer side and the leading clubs. No one can say that we are anywhere near Algeria, mentally.

One reason why the idea of withdrawing from membership until we have proper confidence that we can pose real challenges in other than regional soccer is that participation is costly, and it is possible the trips to Cairo etc, as they aren't separately sponsored, are a costly irrelevance.

Of course at times a top club like Simba may draw Kiyovu to start with, where they stand more than average chance of going forward, but if we have arrangements for sideline tournaments of a friendly character, we shall not miss such outings. After all, tourneys aren't just a geographically defined duty, but contests between equals.

The first method this can be done is to split the regional Cecafa Cup into two levels, the first being a contest within the East African Community member countries, and the second being the wider 12 to 15 nation contest.

We shall then be rather relaxed in the sub-regional tourney as we would have nearly equal chances of winning (though Uganda and Kenya have a better track record), and then, if the proper regional tourney is redesigned, it would substitute for the Africa-wide tourney. Other countries or sub-regions may conceivably do the same as well, so that CAF Nations Cup is a titans' grouping.

Instead of making all countries fall into one basket – the way European football is organized – and thus playing both club and nations contests in that format, a regional breakdown is better. First the levels of soccer are still quite different, some areas having Asiatic levels of football like the Mainland, Zanzibar, Somalia or virtually any other, while a number of countries or zones have European levels of soccer, as in West Africa and considerably as well, North Africa.

Intermittent performances like Zambia's heroic CAF Nations Cup outing notwithstanding, the general level of soccer is vastly different by its zones.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY
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