AS we all know, the Brazil U-17 Fifa World Cup which was hosted by Brazil and opened over three weeks ago is over with the host nation winning the soccer tournament after beating Mexico 2-1.
The final match which was as titillating as the semifinal one, in terms of the aura and the manner goals were scored, carry massive lessons for many countries in the world and in particular, Tanzania. To reach the final, Brazil beat France 3-2 and Mexico took out the Netherlands.
Both matches were similar in that Brazil took out France after the latter had led by two goals to nil at the stroke of half-time and Mexico would go on to edge out the Europeans after they had led the Mexicans and both Brazil and Mexico were given lifelines against their opponents through spot-kicks which were decided through the VAR.
On the use of the VAR, in the events of fouls committed in the penalty box by players defending their goal, the world, and in particular, the English premier league need to pick a leaf from this year’s Brazil U-17 Fifa World Cup. The referees were extremely good in their work both from officiating and also in employing the VAR.
They always made sure that they went to the booth to check the VAR, they did not rely on what VAR operators told them and this is one of the biggest problems of the EPL and that bunch of old referees who can hardly follow the match cracking match on the pitch.
Going by the results, it’s clear that as far as the U-17 is concerned, football is in Latin America and the Europeans would now have to go back to the drawing board if they want to improve their game. Africa is third as all our representatives, including Nigeria which has won this particular tournaments three times, as all our representatives were knocked out at the group stage.
And like the Europeans, African countries and in particular those who had produced our representatives would also have to go back to the drawing board to find out how they could work on their teams.
But for the rest of the continent, again including Tanzania where the four African representatives were picked through the African Youth Championship held in Dar es Salaam early this year need to take what transpired in Brazil this week very critically.
The point is, you cannot qualify for Africa Cup of Nations, the Olympics or the Fifa World Cup at any level from the U-17 to U-20 and U-21 if you have failed to produce internationally competitive U-17 teams. Simply put, the future of any soccer stars who can take on the best both in Africa and the world at large is forged on the anvil of U-17 and nowhere else!
Therefore any country that ignores soccer academy, it will never get anywhere and there are already plenty of lessons for Tanzania on the importance of soccer academy.
Had we not had a fairly good U-17 team coupled with our government’s decision to back us when the TFF applied to the Confederation of African Football for hosting of the tournament, we would not have been allowed to host the tournament in the first place.
But because our U-17 did well in the CECAFA youth championship with Serengeti Boys finishing first runners up to Uganda, Tanzania was allowed to host the tournament and it was from this tournament that four African representatives were picked for the Brazil U-17 World Cup.
Serengeti Boys may have failed to qualify for the Brazil U-17 Fifa World Cup, but as you read this piece today, one of the Serengeti Boys stars, Kelvin John is presently in the Leicester soccer academy which is owned by premier league club, Leicester currently lying second in the English premier league and that is no mean achievement.