East African football must gain consistency         

16Apr 2019
The Guardian
East African football must gain consistency         

UNFORTUNATELY, we have been here before. Sadly, this situation is an all-too familiar one for us all.

Simba SC forwards, Meddie Kagere (partly hidden) and John Bocco (in red jersey), challenge Egypt’s Al Ahly players during the 018/19 CAF Champions League match that took place at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on February 12. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TFF

The situation that I am alluding to regards the absolutely morale-sapping 4-1 defeat which our domestic colossus, Simba, suffered at the hands of the intimidating TP Mazembe in the 2nd leg of their CAF Champions League quarter-final showdown.

It has to be noted that although we were all aware that Simba could lose the quarterfinal tie against the dreaded heavyweights of the DRC, TP Mazembe, it was perhaps the embarrassing nature of the Msimbazi Street side’s ouster from the CAF Champions League that really was a savage blow for all local football fans and those interested neutrals who got swept up in the fairy-tale yarn of Simba’s advancement from the group stage to the knockout phase of African football’s most prized club football championship.

Anyway, as that famous idiomatic expression puts it: there is no use crying over spilt milk.

Looking at the big picture, Simba’s successful campaign in the CAF Champions League this year, which is a championship reserved just for those clubs occupying the highest echelon of African football, brought to the fore this realization which is particularly germane not just to Simba’s exit from the elite competition but to East African football in general, which is that: renowned clubs and various countries of this region must toil relentlessly, if need be, in order to obtain the ‘Big C’, that has so far eluded them – Consistency.

Admittedly, Simba’s inspirational progress in the African equivalent of the UEFA Champions League this year was nothing short of truly glorious stuff.

But then again, various pre-eminent clubs on the East African stage like SC Villa and Tusker FC have also caused a real stir in previous editions of CAF Football Club Competitions, only to fall flat on their faces in the seasons which follow the magical year in which they distinctly caught the eye with their quintessential showings.

To cut right to the chase, our greatest football clubs in East Africa have lacked one ingredient, which is absolutely critical for success in the sharks-infested waters of African football and this missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle is consistency.

For the observant eye, it will also come as little surprise to learn that the majority of countries in East Africa lack consistency and this challenge has proven to be a major setback in the lofty plans of many football-playing countries in the region.

As an example, let us examine the case of the Uganda Cranes. In the late 1970s, the Cranes beat all and sundry en route to qualifying for the final of the AFCON Finals, where they lost to the glittering Black Stars of Ghana, who claimed the trophy.

However, it must be acknowledged that since the late 1970s, the Cranes have not reached the finale of the AFCON Finals, which is a real let down.

Similarly, in the Tanzanian context, we expect that the Taifa Stars’ qualification for the AFCON Finals this year will NOT just be a one-off.

Bearing in mind that the last time the Taifa Stars qualified for the AFCON Finals was way back in 1980, here’s hoping that it will not take another agonizing spell of a whopping 39 years before we can successfully qualify for another installment of the AFCON Finals.


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