Article written by Ricardo Makivic, a football journalist based in Tanzania follow him on twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/makivic08
Tanzanian football has in the past widely been regarded as being below par but over the last five years Tanzanian football has definitely been on the rise.
In 2007, we saw Tanzania opening The Tanzanian National Stadium, a 60,000 seater stadium which was one of the biggest in Africa. The construction of this stadium has played a great role in the development of Tanzanian Football, since the stadium has been used to stage various tournaments with the likes of Tanzania Vodacom Premier League , Cecafa Kagame Castle Cup, CAF qualifiers and matches with top rated teams such as Brazil, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Algeria to name but a few. Such high profile games being hosted in Tanzania has definitely helped put Tanzanian football on the map.
Apart from that, the influence of Simba and Yanga (Young Africans) the top clubs in Tanzania who have dominated the nations footballing landscape ever since the creation of the Tanzanian Premier League in 1965, have been key in developing Tanzanian football. These Tanzanian heavyweights have not just been a threat domestically but also in various African tournaments in which they have taken part.
Also if we put aside the likes of Simba and Yanga, there are new developing clubs likes Azam Fc , African Lyon, Toto African and Mtibwa Sugar. All of these clubs are developing after getting investment from new owners as well as through sponsorship deals.
Azam Football club could be one of the teams to really shake-up football in Tanzania, after being bought by one of the richest men in Tanzania there has been a huge investment into the club. Under this new ownership we have seen Azam Fc building their own stadium with full occupied resources such as gym, training pitch, main pitch, apartments, buses and many more to come as other constructions take place gradually. The development of clubs like Azam FC are helping to increase the profile of Tanzania’s football by firstly making the Tanzanian Premier League more competitive and also by increasing the nations chances of success in one of the regional club tournaments.
During the last half decade, there haven’t been any players playing abroad in the likes of Europe, America and Asisa. But in the last three years there has been presence of many players from Tanzania beginning to move outside of Africa.
Sticking up with the MLS, we have Nizar Khalfan a midfielder who was taken by Vancouver White Caps Fc after showing great form when Vancouver White Caps came to play two friendly games with Simba and Yanga at the National Stadium. Currently He is still under contract playing for the MLS side.
Getting into Europe, we haven’t got any players in Europe’s top leagues such as English Premier League, Spanish La Liga or Bundesliga but there have been player in other leagues. It includes, Henry Joseph who was a Simba Sc player playing for Kongsvinger in Norway, also the highly rated talented Thomas Ulimwengu from Tanzania Soccer Academy (TSA) went to Hamburg in Germany for trials but is now playing for Tp Mazembe (Congo) and Haruna Moshi “Boban” went to Sweden.
In the rest of the World, we find Top class Mbwana Samatta who is like Ulimwngu currently playing for Tp Mazembe in Congo and Danny Mwranda playing in Vietnam.
If we check on talents that Tanzania football has ever produced we have to include Thomas Ulimwengu and Mbwana Samatta who are both in Congo Playing for Tp Mazembe. These two have brought a lot of pride to Tanzania both for their clubs and for their exploits for the national team.
All in all, Tanzania football is coming up. In East Africa Uganda have been leading the FIFA rankings followed by Tanzania and Kenya who have been shifting their positions now and then.
As time goes by, the sequence shows one day hopefully we will have a lot of Tanzanian talents spread world wide just like fellow nations have with the likes of Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast which in turn will hopefully allow the national team to flourish.