After Kili Stars, city rivals:Mapinduzi Cup holds promise for 'revenge

17Dec 2017
Michael Eneza
Guardian On Sunday
After Kili Stars, city rivals:Mapinduzi Cup holds promise for 'revenge

TOWARDS the end of last week, Kilimanjaro Stars were expected to play a last hurrah encounter with Kenya's Harambee Stars, as chances of getting three points against Kenya and a good goal difference looked nil.

That is what happened as the was bundled out albeit on a narrow margin as was the case for its other losses, against Zanzibar and Rwanda. The Mainland team struggled to earn a draw with Libya then lost to Zanzibar Heroes and Rwanda Amavubi, in which case the match against Kenya was expected to be a formality. The situation raised a number of questions on the technical side of things, theside's preparedness, coaching and motivation, despite that there were some indications earlier that players' allowances would be improved. Hope came from efforts to cut sleaze in the federation, but these things were far from talk of town.

The Senior Challenge Cup is one of two major regional competitions which have of late faced a number of challenges, skipping tournaments in the annual routine owing to difficulties of finding a host country as there are bills to be footed. One victim has been the regional club championship usually known as the Kagame Cup, with Rwandan president Paul Kagame having sponsored the tournament for more than a decade. Prolonged charity at times becomes a sort of disability, in which case the sponsoring of the tourney fell into abeyance, a vacuum that is being filled by a different tournament, a more localized event.It is Mapinduzi Cup, designed an Isles tournament but taking centre stage in the region due to this shortfall.

Mapinduzi Cup is basically an Isles event and it has gradually become a clincher to the usual rivalry of the city giants, Young Africans SC and Simba SC, another moment to prove their abilities. Other competitions of an occasional sort came up like Tusker Cup and have in a way fizzled out, for nothing was being said about that competition in the course of the year - after having noticed that the returns in terms of effects of publicity might not be sufficiently high. It is an attractive tournament which enables Isles sides to contest with the best in East Africa, and win, as it is often the case that Isles teams reach the final of the Mapinduzi Cup event, against all odds. This year the Isles side to the Senior Challenge Cup more than proved its worth.

With the regional club champions tournament in abeyance, and Kilimanjaro Stars in particular having quit the Senior Challenge Cup humbled, it is opportune to see if something can be recovered in another regional tourney, or say an up and coming regional tourney. That is why efforts need to be directed to prepare teams well for Mapinduzi Cup, where a good performance by local clubs may uplift feelings somewhat, even if it is a club tournament rather than a national team event. Any event in which a local side performs well lingers somewhat in memory, and a loss is likely to stay as well, until there is a comparable event when a portion of lost dignity is claimed on the ground. It is like Zanzibar, coming to the pinnacle of the Senior Challenge Cup.

Recent outings of Taifa Stars, the proper national side have shown mixed results, where on the whole it has left the fans distressed that the side does not seem to be making progress. The same is the case for the proto-national side, Kili Stars whose tactical oversight was handed to a current assistant of Taifa Stars head coach Salum Mayanga, and it is still being debated what was the role of key tactical options in the total failure in the Senior Challenge Cup meet. Still it is doubtless that fortunes of the national team and any versions of it for that matter are at a low ebb as there is no enabling environment as was the case earlier. It is an issue of imagination, and now it's elsewhere, not precisely in national team growth,, but chancy outings.

Just how far Zanzibar has used this sort of chancy situations to excel in the Senior Challenge Cup is another matter, as the Isles have never had a more propitious condition for either club or nationl team prowess, but often find surprising cohesion and effectiveness to derail the best in East Africa. Still at the club level Tanzania Mainland stands a better chance to excel than it isually does at national team level, whether it is Taifa Stars as compared to the city giants (and increasingly Azam FC) or as of late, Kilimanjaro Stars. The point was expressed by ex-Yanga striker Simon Msuva, thinking of the next Senior Challenge Cup, that the Kilimanjaro Stars side is the same as Taifa Stars minus a few players. They are hence the same Yanga and Simba players, along with Azam FC and a few others and must seek to recover dignity in the Mapinduzi Cup.