THE whole football fraternity was baffled when Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) honoured Dodoma to host Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC) final at the Jamhuri Stadium on May 28th this year.
This year’s finalists; Mbao FC and Simba will meet in the Tanzanian capital to decide the team which will represent the country in the CAF Confederation Cup championship next season.
Though the decision came unexpectedly, it meant to stage the final at the neutral ground which can also serve as the central position, considering Mbao are based in Mwanza, while Simba are 1,200km away in Dar es Salaam.
This fact makes Mbao travel about 700km to the venue and Simba will have to cover the remaining 500km from Dar es Salaam to the final’s venue. The news of staging the ASFC final came at the wake of Dodoma capitalization campaign that is now sweeping across the country.
The big national level club competition comes to Dodoma years after their only representatives, Police Dodoma crashed out of the Mainland Premier League.
The final should awaken the sleeping Dodoma capital, which in the past paraded formidable teams such as CDA, Waziri Mkuu, Mji Mpwapwa and Ntomoko, all of them already melted into the thin air now.
Football enthusiasts feel the region must take this opportunity as a challenge by plotting the region’s comeback to the national and international football scene. Mbao FC, the league debutants who have made it to the final by flooring many big teams.
In tennis Mbao could be labeled a wildcat as their entry to the final was not expected at all. While Simba claimed the final spot after eliminating Azam FC, Mbao sailed to the final with a stunning 1-0 win over the Premier League champions, Young Africans. Mbao FC also dethroned Yanga, their Federation Cup championship following their defeat to Mbao at CCM Kirumba.
Should it be an understatement to ask Dodoma residents if they are really interested with a match that involves teams from other regions. In matter of fact the match is arguably important to the residents since it will give them a picture of what the newly formed Mbao FC and the League made the best teams of the tournament.
While chasing the Federation Cup, Mbao are on the other side fighting relegation, a situation that forces them to fight tooth and nail to win the match regardless of the status of their opponents.
The Mwanza-based club will have to prove to millions of Tanzanians that they can too win a ticket to represent the nation in Federation Cup which is a privilege the ASFC champions deserve. This, will however, be revealed on the judgment day.
On the other hand, their counterparts Simba are more than willing to regain a place in the international level competitions, the opportunity they have been deprived of for the past four years.
As the chances for both of them to lift the mainland league title remain in balance, the only huge opportunity available to Simba is the ASFC title against unpredictable side that has eliminated many big names.
In a twist of events that surprises many sports enthusiasts, the match has been moved to Dodoma despite being earlier declared it would be staged at National Stadium in Dar es Salaam. There have been mixed feelings about this sudden shift of venue in which others praise the nation’s football body for staging at the neutral venue while others sensed it was deliberately done to favour the Mwanza based outfit.
Time should come for people to understand that finals differ from other games and are supposed to be played at unbiased venue.
Yes, if the Federation Cup was scheduled to be played at the National Stadium as anticipated by many people, Simba SC could have had much advantage since the stadium is used as their home ground.
Similarly, if CCM Kirumba stadium in Mwanza was to be selected, then Mbao FC could be seen favoured as it is their home region, In other words, if all the teams in VPL had their own playing grounds, then the National Stadium could be used as the neutral venue of all football finals in the country something, which, is not the case lately.
The same system is applied in other places like England whereby final games are played at Wembley Stadium which does not belong to any team.
However, the big question is how ready is Jamhuri Stadium to stage such a breath-taking final? Ample time is still available to ensure that the venue has all what it takes to make the finale palatable and leave behind a good legacy that it once hosted an FA cup final between Simba SC and Mbao FC.