A FEW days before the Simba,Young Africans derby at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam over a fortnight ago, I wrote in this column that the two oldest clubs in Tanzania have for years had the habit of spending all their financial resources and energy preparing against their derby, but not against other teams in the Vodacom Premier League.
Most of those who may have read that piece were likely to have considered my arguments in that column as nothing more than an engagement in space buying to fulfill my day’s job, namely, that of writing the column for that day.
Simply put, my esteemed readers are likely to have considered me as one of those journalists who write for the sake of writing. But if you look at the results of both teams after they had just sweated out in their derby, you would discover that they all ended in draws!
Of the two Dar es Salaam clubs, the worst placed was the winner of that derby, Simba, who escaped through the skin of their teeth against a team that almost all teams in the VPL have won against, Mbeya City boys.
In that match played at the sprawling National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, a penalty actually saved Simba from suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Mbeya City.
The implication of the twoall- draw match is that when Simba set on to the pitch to take on the Mbeya City boys, they had no more energy left from the derby they had had barely a few days back. In short, Simba had prepared themselves for the derby against their arch rivals, Young Africans, and not against subsequent matches which included the Mbeya City boys.
The same thing could be more or less said about Simba’s arch rivals, Young Africans, who played a goalless draw in a match held at what its inhabitants like to refer to as the mji kasoro bahari—which can be translated as the city minus the ocean, Morogoro.
In that match, during which Young Africans wasted a lot of scoring chances including a penalty by Simon Msuva, it was quite clear that having been beaten by Simba a few days back, the Dar es Salaam Twiga Street club was all out to win the match in order to match their arch rivals in points. But they were not psychologically prepared for the game. Young Africans failed to win the match, which they should have easily won, because they had spent all their energies, including their psychological preparedness, in the derby.
But Young Africans’ failure to win their post derby match surprised me because in the past they have normally won such matches regardless of the results they had had in the derby against Simba.
To Young Africans leadership perhaps this is one of the telltale signs that their team may have finally reached the end of their good old days, hence the need to start working on a new team. Young Africans leadership need to start working on their team because the present outfit is unlikely to reach far in the continental clubs championship.
If they have young players they registered both for the league and the continental club tournament, they need to start making use of them now in the same way their arch rivals, Simba, have done for years.
For instance, it’s indisputable that the present Young Africans team has lost the pace they had three to four years ago. It’s an open secret that you cannot compete, successfully, in the continental soccer club tournament if your team lack the requisite pace for the game.
No matter how skilful your team is, but as long as the team lack pace, it’s a ready-made recipe for failure. A peep at the Young Africans’ squad shows that most of the players are already unfit to play in the present, fast paced, modern game.
Since they lost the derby against Simba, Young Africans fans have continued with their endless complains, wondering how their team could lose against a ten man team and when they already had an edge in the game.
But if the fans were fair both to themselves and their team, they would have realised that their team had lacked both pace and the never- say-die spirit which are the engines of a vibrant team laden with hunger for victories.
As for Simba whose squad is fairly young compared to that of Young Africans, they need to organise more friendly matches, in between the VPL, against top flight foreign clubs, starting with those from East and Central Africa in order to give their squad the much needed international experience.
Such friendly matches would go a long way towards strengthening the team, both for local and future international tournaments, that’s, if they go on to win the VPL.