Voice of Sport

Why’s Tanzania football of mere Somalia caliber and poorer than Comoros, Sao Tome?

Tanzania have very little to show for all the noise about Simba and Young Africans and fantastic facilities at National Stadium and Chamazi, home of Azam


IT is nearly impossible to believe that Tanzania, population 56 million, is among the seven countries with the poorest national football teams in Africa.

In a country that blatantly and loudly expresses its passion for football,  and almost as is if the only sport,  it is hard to imagine its national team, Taifa Stars, fairs  just a little better than the bottom-in-Africa  unstable Somalia and is in the  ignominious company of  Djibouti, Eritrea, Seychelles, The Gambia and another war-torn  nation,  South Sudan.

Comoros (1,861 sq. km, population only 825,000) about the size of Dar es Salaam (1,560 sq. km) has a better national soccer team (ranked 141st in the world) than Tanzania (158th).

‘Derby’

Why is Tanzania’s international performance abysmal? It is mind-boggling if you saw the passion about the game especially in their capital city Dar es Salaam. Everyone talks and most times cries over football. The only happiness is for half of the country’s football followers when – literally — the only two teams they care for, Simba and Young Africans, play the hometown [Dar] “derby”. Winners go wild celebrating “the best team in the world”, while for the losers it is grief near fatal.

But year after year, that’s the only tale of the Tanzanian game. In over 100 years of association football on the international stage, it has no or little success to show. They have reached only one Africa Cup of Nations finals — in 1980.

Facilities

They are passionate about football in Tanzania and obviously mistakenly convinced that they are good in the game. Relative to other East Africans, Tanzania, or rather Dar es Salaam, have some enviable facilities and amazing turnout of youth players; from mere children to across other ages.

The facilities at Chamazi, a Dar es Salaam suburb home of Premier League club Azam resembles the best sports academy complexes in Europe. Indeed they were developed by European managers and the current head of youth development in Tom Legg, a youthful-look former Sierra Leone national team coach, who worked at Craig Bellamy Academy (Sierra Leone) and at Phnom Penh Crown FC (Cambodia).

Refurbished

The main National Stadium in Dar seats 60,000 and is wonderfully comfortable; it’s packed for Simba/Yanga games only. And a next door artificial turf pitch Uwanja wa Uhuru (stadium) has recently been refurbished to a 25,000 capacity upgrade ideal for “smaller” league games.

 Soon, and finally, the country’s Government and all national administration will be moving from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma City, right in the middle of the large country. Another huge sports complex will go up in Dodoma, 16 kilometres outside the centre of the new capital. The Kingdom of Morocco has committed to finance the project that will have everything in a modern sporting city.

Completion

Authorities have guaranteed the project to be complete in the current President John Pombe Magufuli’s first of five year-term which began just over one year ago.

Tanzania football will thus continue to enjoy player and supporters’ passion and more superb facilities. But will they continue to be all “lip” and no action and results?

Below, February 2017 Fifa rankings (Africa):

  • 23 Egypt
  • 31 Senegal
  • 33 Cameroon
  • 36 Tunisia
  • 37 DR Congo
  • 38 Burkina Faso
  • 41 Nigeria
  • 45  Ghana
  • 48  Morocco
  • 50  Algeria
  • 58  Mali
  • 62  South Africa
  • 66  Benin
  • 70  Guinea
  • 74 Cape Verde
  • 75  Uganda
  • 76  Congo Republic
  • 80  Guinea Bissau
  • 87  Gabon
  • 87  Kenya
  • 91  Zambia
  • 92  Libya
  • 94  Sierra Leone
  • 98  Swaziland
  • 99  Namibia
  • 100 Rwanda
  • 101 Togo
  • 102 Liberia
  • 103 Ethiopia
  • 104  Malawi
  • 105  Zimbabwe
  • 105  Mozambique
  • 107  Mauritania
  • 108  Central Africa Republic
  • 110  Equatorial Guinea
  • 115  Botswana
  • 132  Niger
  • 135  Madagascar
  • 138  Burundi
  • 139  Sudan
  • 141  Comoros
  • 143  Lesotho
  • 147 Mauritius
  • 148 Angola
  • 151 Chad
  • 153 Sao Tome e Principe
  • 158 Tanzania
  • 169 South Sudan
  • 178 The Gambia
  • 186 Seychelles
  • 205  Djibouti
  • 205  Eritrea
  • 205  Somalia

– Additional reporting by Agencies