Why Tanzanian league is attracting Kenyan players

Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 13:22 | By
Why Tanzanian league is attracting Kenyan players
Joash Onyango (left) in action for Simba SC during a recent Tanzania Premier League match. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Ever wondered why Tanzanian football has been increasingly attracting Kenyan players and coaches than any other country in the East African region?

Wonder no more as the reason is explicit. Tanzanian football pays handsomely and some of the country’s clubs have no qualms breaking into banks to get some of the finest players and tacticians in the region.

That explains why Tanzania Premiership League is dominated by foreign footballers from Arab, Asia, East/West/North and central Africa.

As for Kenya, the country has almost a dozen players who have previously tested waters in the Land of Bongo and in the process earning well to lead a decent living.

Former Tusker striker, the late Bernard Agunda was the first Kenyan player to try his hands in Tanzanian football in late 90’s when his exploits with the brewers led to him being signed by Dar Simba.

Wekundu wa Msimbazi, as Simba are fondly known as, cast their nets wide in the Kenyan footballers market by signing Pascal Ochieng.

About a decade later Bernard Mwalala, then a shining star at Nzoia Sugar, found a new abode in another popular Tanzanian club Young Africans (Yanga) alongside ex-Sofapaka scoring machine John Baraza.

Coastal Union of Tanzania would also not be left behind as they brought on board Jerry Santos who previously played for Posta Rangers and then Gor Mahia back home in Kenya.

Not to be outdone. Money-bags Azam FC are also on record as having enjoyed the services of several Kenyan connections including Jockins Atudo, George “Blackberry” Odhiambo and Humphrey Mieno.

Other Kenyans players who have had stints in Tanzania include Franis Kahata (ex Simba FC) and current Azam FC midfielder Kenneth Muguna.

It’s little wonder then that last week, former Gor Mahia talismanic defender Joash “Berlin Wall”Onyango had his contract extended at Simba.

 Since he joined Simba from Kogalo, Onyango, has played an integral part of Simba and is one of the hopefuls in the club winning trophies.

Although detailing what Onyango earns is personal and is not ethical to discuss it publicly, it is believed that he takes home about Sh 500,000 per month.

The Kenyan coaches who have had spells in Tanzania include the late James Sianga’ (Dar Simba), James Nandwa (ex-Coastal Union) and current Biashara FC coach Francis Baraza.

According to statistics, Tanzania league is one of the few African leagues that pay the club personnel and especially footballers up to US$2 Million for their sign-on fee while some footballers earn close to US$10,000.

Meanwhile, Sektzia Ness Ziona FC have confirmed the acquisition of three new players, among them defender Johnstone Omurwa ahead of the new Israeli Premier League campaign.

The 23-year-old Harambee Star was unveiled by the club alongside Brazilian Ari Mora, who joined from Benny Sachnin, and 25-year-old Guinea international defender Lancint Sidiba from Albanian side Dinamo Tirana.

“Welcome, Ari Mora, Johnston Omurwa,” Ness Ziona confirmed on their social media pages. “The football club Section Nes Ziona is pleased to announce the signing of the players Ari Mora and Johnston Omurwa through their agent Shlomi Ben Ezra.

“Mora, a 25-year-old Brazilian wing player, arrives at our club after he made a Premier League debut in Benny Sachnin’s team last season, and most of his career spent in the Brazilian League.”

“Meanwhile, Omurwa, 23, comes to us from FKF Premier League side Wazito, and he is a Kenyan player where he has managed 11 appearances.”

Speaking after being unveiled, Omurwa, said: “I want to thank the Nes Ziona management for the opportunity to play in the Premier League, adding: “I expect to start the season and meet the club’s goals and even beyond that.”

After finishing his secondary school education, Omurwa signed for Wazito in 2017, before switching to Mathare United in 2018 where he made his league debut against Vihiga United in February 2018.

In August 2019, Omurwa returned to Wazito and was linked with a transfer to Angolan outfit Petro Atletico in summer 2020, but the deal fell through. In 2021, he attended trials in South Africa with Bidvest but he returned home to rejoin Wazito in the Kenyan league.

Omurwa has played internationally for the Kenya national U23 team, making his debut against Mauritius in a 2020 Olympic qualification match in November 2018. He made his debut for the senior team Harambee Stars on September 8, 2019, in a 1-1 friendly draw against Uganda.

He captained the national team during a 1-0 win over South Sudan on March 13, 2021. After the game against the Bright Stars, Omurwa confessed to GOAL he did not expect to captain the side in the friendly at Nyayo Stadium.

“To be honest, it was an amazing feeling that I cannot explain,” Omurwa told GOAL after the game, adding: “The coach [Jacob Mulee] named the starting line-up before saying I will lead the team.

“He said he believed in me and all he wanted was a win. I was over the moon and at the same time felt nervous. However, I had to do my best not to let down the coach, and getting a win really gave me the morale I needed.”

His new club comes from the Israeli city of Ness Ziona, and are currently featuring in the Israeli Premier League, the top-tier of Israeli football, and play their home matches at HaMoshava Stadium in Petah Tikva, Israel.

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