Why did Yanga wait for Aziz Ki to turn free agent?

By Nassir Nchimbi , The Guardian
Published at 09:45 AM Jun 17 2024
Photo: File
Aziz Ki

IT has been four years since a top-flight football player in Tanzania scored 20+ goals in a domestic season.

The last time such a feat was achieved was in the 2019/20 season, when Rwandan attacker, Meddie Kagere, then playing for Simba SC, scored 23 goals in his second season at the club.

In the just-ended season, Young Africans’ talisman - Burkinabe midfielder Stephane Aziz Ki - scored 21 goals to win the top flight's top goal scorer award. In comparison, Azam FC midfielder Feisal Salum ended second after notching 19 goals.

Aziz Ki has produced a stellar performance in one of the best seasons of his playing career. He has become the first attacking midfielder to win the accolade in the Mainland Tanzania Premier League in recent years.

When Aziz Ki arrived at Young Africans in 2022, his prowess was not top-level compared to his showing in the just-ended season.

Most fans compared him to Simba SC's midfielder Clatous Chama, as with any other foreign player who arrives in the league.

Prominent Zambian midfielder, Chama, is among the best foreign players in the modern era of the Mainland Tanzania Premier League.

Therefore, for any of the league's foreign players - particularly midfielders - to be considered the best, he has to beat Chama's quality, and that is why the supporters were busy comparing Aziz Ki to Chama.

The Burkina Faso national team player arrived at Young Africans when Congolese striker, Fiston Mayele, was at his peak during his two seasons with the Jangwani Street-based outfit.

Mayele took Young Africans’ fans by storm, having scored in his first match for the club - the Community Shield match versus long-time rivals Simba SC - and he went on to bang in important goals. His iconic goal celebration was the most noticeable aspect that made him more famous.

The Congolese attacker was Young Africans’ talisman in the 2021/22 CAF Confederation Cup. He led the team to the showdown final by scoring important goals and was the top goal scorer of the competition.

Aziz Ki almost carried Young Africans on his shoulders in the just-ended season. The footballer’s quality helped the club clinch the season double, the Mainland Tanzania Premier League and Federation Cup silverware, while scoring important goals.

The Burkinabe sensation's hugely impressive season, again, puts Young Africans in a position to lose another important player now that he is a free agent.

Aziz Ki’s last match as a player contracted to Young Africans was the just-ended season’s Federation Cup final against Azam FC, held in Zanzibar recently and concluded with a Young Africans win. The midfielder is now free to sign with any club.

But the question is, why did Young Africans wait until he became a free agent so the outfit could begin talks of signing a new contract with him?

A player who has already proved that he has what it takes to be a game-changer should not be left to turn into a free agent whereby chances of losing him become much bigger, especially when offers from North Africa arrive.

Although Aziz Ki had, in a recent interview with a local media outlet, said that he is open to signing a new contract with Young Africans, the truth is that the club has a huge task to ensure he signs the new contract that will see him demand a lot.

As a free agent, he already has offers from North African and South African teams, with football giants such as Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates having already expressed their desire to acquire his services.

These teams have the financial muscles to sign and offer any player in the Mainland Tanzania Premier League the services he requires.

They have done this before, given Morocco’s RS Berkane signed Chama from Simba whereas the club’s winger Luis Miquissone went to Al Ahly after the 2020/21 season. Both players were contracted to Simba before moving to the other clubs.

It might become a huge loss for Young Africans if Aziz Ki will leave as a free agent and the outfit will not benefit from his sales. Just like previous players that have once departed as free agents. Aziz Ki will bag his signing fee and sign-on fees altogether.

The question is, why do local teams sign players on short-term contracts? If Aziz Ki was required to sign a three-year deal back in 2022, it means Young Africans would have one more season to convince the player to sign an extension.

All top players in the world sign long-term contracts, Young Africans should have done that with the squad's in-form Ivorians Pacome Zouzoua and Kouassi Yao, and the rest of their star players.

The same short-term contracts are the ones that have seen Simba put themself in trouble, fighting to keep Chama every season.

Why does the club sign him on short-term deals? It is a question that can best be answered by the club's leadership.

What Azam are doing at the moment, signing players for three up to four-year contracts is something that has to be replicated by many teams in the Mainland Tanzania Premier League.

Signing top players on a long-term contract helps clubs focus on bringing players that would strengthen other areas, Young Africans are now also focusing on keeping Aziz Ki who scored 21 goals.

Simba are also battling to keep Chama and Kibu Denis - who scored one goal last season - and bolster the outfit's squad that has failed to qualify for the next season’s CAF Champions League.

Aziz Ki will, in the end, test Young Africans’ financial muscles - finding out whether the Jangwani Street-based side can keep him - and, once the side succeeds, signing him to a three to four-year deal would be a good solution.