WITH less than four matches in the new season of the Vodacom Premier League played, there are already ‘noises’ over the ability or otherwise of coaches.
Rumours first flew in from one of the VPL’s old guards, Simba Sports Club, about the future of their tactician, Cameroonian coach, Joseph Omog.
But the club’s loquacious spokesman, Manara, was quick to dispel the rumours, terming them nothing more than the work of quack soccer analysts who have never even touched the ball in their lives, let alone seeing the inside of a soccer training institute.
Although Simba have not lost a match since the start of the new league season, they have had problems against Azam FC and the match ended in a goalless draw. It was immediately after that match against the ice cream makers that Dar es Salaam’s rumourville was set in motion, forcing Manara to come out firing on in all cylinders.
In the words the son of the country’s best soccer juggler to have ever graced the Tanzanian soil, all Simba leadership has confidence in the Cameroonian coach. “Since the start of the league, no Simba official has given the coach a number of matches in which he is supposed to prove his mettle,” said a fairly worked up Manara.
Simba, who will be representing Tanzania in the CAF Confederation Cup tournament this season, after a five-year hiatus from continental football, have already vowed to win the VPL this season.
However, going by the few matches that have al ready been played, Simba will have to work extremely hard if they want to live to their vow. Their arch soccer rivals, Young Africans, have already twice come very close to losing their matches against what had initially been considered as nothing more than nondescript sides.
The first time was during their first match against newly promoted Iringa outfit, Lipuli or as they are best known in their backyard as, vanya Paluhengo. The match which was played in Dar es Salaam with Young Africans playing as hosts, would go on to witness the Jangwani Street club being forced, literally, to save their chestnuts from the fire after the Iringa boys had led during most part of the match.
Another scare happened about ten days ago, in Songea, where they drew one all against former soccer giants, Majimaji. Although Young Africans went on to win their next game against a Njombe Mji outfit, again it was a scrappy match which could have gone either way.
And that being the case, Simba will certainly have to prepare themselves against what their arch rivals have already faced, from these young and coming up sides most of which are being trained by coaches who know both Simba and Young Africans inside out.
For instance, Simba is being trained by former Simba skipper, Selemani Matola, who together with former Simba coach, Abdallah Kibadeni, are credited for building many topflight Simba players.
Like Young Africans, Simba who are in Mwanza are now scheduled to take on one of the toughest customers in the VPL, Mbao FC, the same team which came very close to destroying their CAF Cup party a few months ago.
As I had occasion to note in my last sports column last Saturday, there are all signs that this season’s VPL is set to bring a few surprises, especially against teams which have long considered themselves to be untouchable sides, and that’s perhaps what makes this year’s league quite different from past league seasons.
With a few players like Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu doing their things abroad along with Simon Msuva and others, local players appear to have all of a sudden been highly motivated.
And, one of the best ways of emulating the few role models I have touched on above is what we seem to be seeing this season, young boys giving big guns a run for their money.
But for teams like Simba and Young Africans to win the VPL, they will need to win all their matches, especially against what are considered to be nondescript sides that includes, among others, Njombe Mji outfits, Lipuli, Mbao FC and of course, one of the best known soccer giants, Kagera Sugar.
Unlike Young Africans, Simba have always had problems in dealing with Kagera Sugar, who now appear to be their next opponent after taking on the never-say-die Mbao FC.
But much as Manara rubbished the rumour that had revolved around Simba’s Cameroonian coach, Simba’s West Lake’s tourcum-soccer business is very critical in determining how well prepared they are in contending for this season’s top honours.
If they come out unscathed from this tour, they would have succeeded in making a major statement just as what their soccer rivals have done, done somewhat well from their southern highlands tour which they have ended without losing a game as they returned home.