The Rise of The Tanzania Devils: Times are Changing


There have been 21 World Cups since the dawn of modern football, and all of the cups awarded in their respective years are share by eight teams alone. None of it is Tanzania’s national team, and that would be not only amazing to any seasoned fan, but also impossible, since they never have qualified.

To give you a sense of the novelty of the talent emerging within Tanzania’s youth squads: their national only managed to qualify twice to the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations. Once in 1980 and in 2019. Make no mistake, being present in actual official games can be always responsible for the amount of goals scored, for the better and for the worse. To CR7 is for the better, to Tanzania is for the worst. You can’t show off if you don’t show up.

But this seemingly ahistorical squad is showing signs of a change in talent, which seems to be precluding a change in fortune. The road seems long and windy, but there is a hope, and for Tanzania, hope has many names.

The players that can instill a new fire on Tanzania

  • Kelvin John, the East African Mbappé

If a new story is being written for Tanzania’s side, it’s only fair to start on the player who’s probably the biggest hope in the entire Tanzanian youth system. Register the name, for you’ll be hearing it soon enough: Kelvin John. His profile is eerily similar to that of the “French arrow”, but he of course lacks the definition and entailment that only age can provide. Yet, it has enough to make him the best scorer of CECAFA U20 2019, with 7 goals in 6 games. Rumored to be heading to Genk to proceed his career, the 18-year-old has the whole wide world in front of him, and looking towards him too.

  • Andrew Simchimba

Two years older, and one goal short of getting the award Kelvin got (6 goals in 6 games), Simchimba nonetheless helped Tanzania win CECAFA U20 with his poacher skills and general area awareness. He isn’t the gazelle Kelvin John seems to be, but a more fixed positional play with sensible runs in and out is definitively a way to either confound the center-backs, allowing player like Kelvin to appear on a finishing spot, or even do a one-two and score it himself. This was exactly what was done in CECAFA U20 2019, to great results. If this duo can transport their synergy to the main team, perhaps we will hear more from Tanzania in the future.

  • Ally Samatta

From the new to the consecrated, Samatta is clearly the best in Tanzania’s current squad, and a player that has broken out of the mold and managed to conquer his spot in Europe, from Belgium to England, to Turkey, to England back again. Owner of a powerful right foot and an intelligent presence on the area, Samatta is an asset both for Antwerp and his national team, and will likely be a good influence to the new kids on the block, given his extensive European experience.

  • Kameta, Laurence and Gaudence

It’s hard to serve a definitive analysis of players whose media exposure to is so dim, and when this is the case, rather than speaking about personal abilities and characteristics, one is left with the statistics and what they can eventually say about the quality of the players. These are three under-20 players who practically played every minute in the last CECAFA U20, which Tanzania won. This leads to a simple, but rational conclusion: They must have offered a sturdy, composed back line to their team and, looking at Tanzania’s leading line-up, they surely will need new blood capable of renewing the squad and providing security to the great talents that are appearing on more offensive positions.







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