Ngorongoro Heroes have work to do, but soccer is improving

02Apr 2018
The Guardian
Ngorongoro Heroes have work to do, but soccer is improving

TANZANIA'S Under-20 national soccer side, Ngorongoro Heroes obtained a barren draw with their Congo Democratic Republic (DRC) counterparts in a home game on Saturday, making their return game next week more difficult, as they need a win to proceed to the next state.

While pundits don't have to despair rapidly at the chances of doing that, it is clear however that some progress is being registered in how Tanzanian teams are faring in major competitions. The youth side made it to the continental finals the previous year, showing that plenty can be done with the facilities we have, the talent that keeps rising, adding proper organisation.

The continental finals will be held in Niger sometime next year, where the next encounter for the winners of the two-match Tanzania-Congo duel is Mali, a West African country that has marked its place in continental soccer. Many African countries sporadically rise to the pinnacle of continental soccer, for instance Zambia and DRC in the past, while some have occasionally made forays to the finals of continental tournaments, like Kenya and Uganda, while yet others, including Tanzania, rarely make it to the finals. That is still the state of the game but our players are showing increasingly positive ability to be noticed outside, and perform well.

As a matter of fact quite a few youths are picked early and go for foreign teams to be nurtured for club soccer there but often we don't hear much about them later. Usually we have more knowledge of those picked from leading sides especially premier league or for that matter city giant sides for regional and international club sides. We don't usually keep track of youngsters in various countries, otherwise we would hear of them in tournaments like Under-20 like this one, in which case we can't even say they have done well or keep improving where they are, but if they were the best here, why not perform also outside?

While we are still at it, some things come up during tournaments and they also matter, for instance the issue of technique or tactics used, and if they were suited for the sort of opponent we had. The reason for taking note of this is that Ngorongoro Heroes coach Amy Ninje told a popular FM station a day or two before the match that he has prepared his boys well "and does not need to know about the Congolese." What he was saying was that only his game plan counts, the techniques he trusts, and not reacting to what adversaries will put up, or how they ordinarily play, in the sense that those details do not count in his game planning.

Obviously that is a vexing point as be said so when his Kilimanjaro Stars was bundled out early in the last CECAFA Challenge Cup. He said there were problems of familiarity with the formation he had introduced, and that if the team works hard with that formation it will go considerably far, which isn't tournament philosophy but club ideas, as to what one does in the long term. In national team soccer one picks players playing for different coaches in various clubs and seeks tactics suited for the moment, where knowing the adversary also counts. Perhaps TFF may have to find a way of introducing realism to coaching, instead of excessive, rather costly idealism.

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