“Inaumiza!” said Sam. “We put so much into organising this tournament but our teams once again did not take it with the seriousness it deserves,” he further lamented.
Sam works as a driver in Tanzania who spoke to us as darkness covered the coastal city of Dar-es-Salaam. He’s been ferrying fans and officials to and from venues assigned for the 2019 SportPesa Cup and has endured a punishing shift.
Like many Tanzanians, Sam was convinced that one of the four teams from the largest nation in East Africa would lift the coveted trophy and end the Kenyan monopoly.
However, for the second time in three years, Dar hosted an all-Kenyan final and for those in Bongo as the country is known, that cuts deep, so deep bearing in mind the football rivalry between the two countries started in 1926 when the first Gossage Cup (now Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup) was played.
“It appears our teams do not realise the benefits of winning this cup. Getting the chance of playing a team like Everton does not come every day.” he said.
“Our brothers from Kenya have given this tournament the respect it deserves and look at what it is doing to their country’s football,” continued Sam
“They do not realise people like us have sacrificed a lot for this tournament and the best reward for us would at least, having one of our teams in the final. Last time Everton came here, they played Gor from Kenya, now we will not even see them again this year,” he lamented.
What made his feelings even more touching is that they were delivered in flowing and fluent Swahili, the language they have mastered than more than any other nation on earth.
To understand the pain shooting through his veins, one needed to be at the precincts of the National Main Stadium which is Tanzania’s signature sporting facility.
“Our teams are jokers, the players are too relaxed. This time, they played their best but it is always the Kenyans. We should give this tournament to Kenyan teams until the day we are ready to compete,” Juma, the ice-cream man, complained.
“Look at them? Where is their pride?” he went on as the red Simba bus pulled out of the stadium following their defeat in the first semi.
Others in the stands had even more unsavoury comments to make since football passions running so deep in Tanzania.
For an event held during working days, the turnout was impressive, illustrating their love for the game but apart from Wednesday, there has been little joy for the home nation that has been wonderful hosts for the third edition of the tournament.
The sentiments were in contrast with those a week before when almost to a man, local fans were sure the trophy would be remaining in Tanzania.