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Say it loud! Yanga 1, Manchester City 1

It was in 1973 when Tanzanian football lovers watched their local stars playing against big names that dominated premier leagues in England, Brazil, Ukraine, Azerbaijan (when parts of Soviet Union) and Romania, all countries are today thousands of miles far ahead of retarded Tanzania
In the same year, Young Africans fought to 1-1 draw with other English Football giants Aston Villa and Norwich City while recording massive victory over Sao Paulo Youth team and Galicia, both from Brazil. Later came Fluminense, ABC and Colorado, also from Brazil.
But most notable one was Fluminense’s flying winger, Lula Diaz who was arguably the first player from 1970 World Cup winners Brazil to play in Dar es salaam. His brilliance upfront helped his team to hand Yanga their first defeat in their 3-2 victory.
It was very fascinating to watch a fierce battle between Lula Diaz and Ali Yusuf who was the then Young Africans’ right full back.
The list of players in the match had Elias Michael between the posts, assisted by defenders Ally Yusuf, Selemani Said, Hassan Gobbos and Omary Kapera while the midfield was manned by Adam Juma, Abdulrahaman Juma and Sunday Manara while strikers included Leonard Chitete, Kitwana Manara and Gibson Sembuli.
Aston Villa, who were in the country during the Easter Week of 1973, played against Young Africans on April 26 at the National Stadium Dar es salaam. Leonard Chitete and Kitwana Manara were the match’s most brilliant players. Less than two weeks later, Yanga played against the Saulo Paulo youth on May 10, 1973.
The Brazilian youth team with Ze Luis, Feitois and Ivan lost 3-1 to Yanga with then flying winger Chitete netting a brace. On December 3, 1973, Yanga hosted ABC from Brazil in a match that ended with a barren draw.
ABC was an acronym created from three Latin American countries of Argentina Brazil and Chile. Yanga drew 1-1 with Galicia in the first game, before they punished the Brazilians with 3-1 rout in their second encounter.
However, Galicia were punished 3-0 by Simba in their second match of their Tanzanian tour. What happened at the then National Stadium over 40 years, has remained a history that the present generation scarcely believe in.
It is beyond imagination that there would come again days when our local football giants, Simba, Yanga or Azam would face super giants such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United Liverpool, Arsenal or even the current Manchester City.
Yanga, who celebrated their 80th anniversary last year and their traditional rivals who celebrate this year, are still limping far behind four decades after weighing muscles with English or Brazilian football teams. Their cross-over appeal today has hardly gone beyond East African borders. The failed attempt to bring to Tanzania Tottenham in the mid 1970s probably remains the best lesson that we didn’t give much weight.
If we could manage to pay them 300,000/- per match, Tanzania football lovers could have seen Pat Jennings, one of the oldest World Cup Stars, Glen Hoddle or their later striking talisman Garth Crooks or Steve Archibald.
It was evident that Tanzanian soccer fans wanted to see more from English soccer after watching Norwich City’s Martin Peter, who played in English World Cup winning squad of 1966.
The English focus was evidently lured by the success of legendary players such as George Best, Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles. They inspired Tanzanians to see the English league stars playing friendly at their home grounds against their local stars Tottenham, who are still among the English football powerhouses, demanded 300,000/- per every match they play in Tanzania.
The demand was too big and unassailable for the country whose residents hardly afforded a 5/- gate fee. Mathematically, it was not possible in those days to raise such a figure. To get 300,000/- you need an attendance of 60,000 at 5/- gate fee.
The capacity of the stadium then was hardly 15,000  people. The gate fees in 1973-74 were 3/- as the lowest and 10/-was the highest entry fee, but only a few could afford in then. Compared to today when about 9bn/- has been injected in the Vodacom Premier League, the country’s league-less past was financially pathetic.
The national champions in 1973, Simba, won the title after beating Lake Stars in the competition that involved only regional champions in a knock out format.
Karume Cup, the competition to find the champion in the 1970s, involved 20 regional representatives who faced each to find the final two teams. Normally, the competition hardly lasted a month with only one venue for the entire competition.
How much was generated in those years was obvious meagre, unless it pit the traditional rivals Simba and Yanga.
But it is not the same today as the country has made notable achievement in terms of sponsorship, notably since the arrival of Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL), the present title sponsor, Vodacom Tanzania and other co-sponsors who back teams such as NMB, Azam TV, and Serengeti who once backed the national team, Taifa Stars.
The country’s failure to bring in Tottenham Hotspurs gave us a good lesson that football is , and Business we strongly believe, if it were today, the country could easily afford to pay Tottenham 300,000/- which was then equivalent to 60,000 US dollars.
The stable backing from sponsors has given our league good mileage at the continental level from where the local teams have managed to recruit their players from all over the continent.
On December 17 when the second round of the league start, the Premier League is likely to have players from Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Togo, Congo DRC, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.
Vodacom Tanzania deserves accolades for backing the league, which has today become among the strongest in africa.
Let Vodacom continue backing it. Let other firms jump into the bandwagon as co-sponsors. Let TFF market league matches to give players and a sponsor a mileage, keep hoping, it won’t take us long to see our local stars playing with or against globe’s mega stars such as Christian Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Suarez or Neymar.

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