Former Gor ace – Kahata – surprised by big support at Simba
Kenyan international Francis Kahata is loving life in Dar es Salaam, having singed for Tanzanian giants Simba at the start of this season.
The former Gor Mahia attacking midfielder has been taken aback by the organisation and huge following the Tanzanian Premier League (TPL) enjoys, something he was not accustomed to in Kenya.
While he enjoyed a big following at Gor, Kachi as he is fondly known, is surprised by the cult-like status he is enjoying in Dar, having been there for just a few months.
“Compared to all the leagues I have played in, certainly the TPL stands out for its organisation and of course the big money sponsors who have come in.
I feel Kenyan football can pick so many lessons from their neighbours and local fans can also start appreciating football more and not only the Mashemeji Derby days,” said Kahata, who has also featured for Albanian giants FK Tirana before.
“In Tanzania, clubs like Simba SC, Azam and Yanga SC have invested heavily on player welfare and management to the extent that issues like late payment of salaries and bonuses are unheard of.
Media coverage and social media effect is also massive and has helped the game grow over there,” he added.
Kahata started the season slowly after sustaining an injury but after his return, he has notched five goals and a number of assists to hep Simba top of the 20-team league with 71 points, 17 ahead of second-placed Azam while endearing himself to the fans. “It has been a superb season by all standards and I am loving every bit of it.
The Tanzanian fanbase is real and crazy at the same time. I feel so much appreciated over there and it gives me nostalgia from my few years back in Kenya with K’Ogalo,” said Kahata.
He went on: “Settling in took a bit of time and especially the weather did me in initially but thankfully I coped.
My new team-mates welcomed me and then I immediately got to work in close consultation with the technical bench who have been helpful and patient.”
Wekundu was Msimanzi, as Simba are popularly known, have been in imperious form and look destined for a third straight and 21 overall title, having scored an impressive 63 goals most of them from former Gor and Rwandan hit man Meddie Kagere who has made the likes of Kahata feel home.
He is quick to dismisses sentiments that Kenyan players do not not succeed in Tanzania due to black magic.
“Boniface Ambani and others succeeded earlier so all this talk is nonsense. If that were the case even myself and Farouk Shikalo (Yanga SC) would not be playing there. Remember, the pressure is always high on the foreigners to shine and adapt as first as possible.
I would say it is all about discipline, hard work and focus,” said Kahata. With local glory guaranteed, Kahata is keen to help Simba replicate the same at continental level.
“The priority is to help the club win trophies and go further in CAF Champions League. I know Yanga have given up now but their coach Luc Eymael keeps saying he wants to scoop it from us so good luck to him.
As Simba, we take every match as a final and during this off period we have private training sessions as instructed by our coaches and at the same time keeping safe,” offers the player who is currently in Kenya as the league is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before he left Gor, there were some reports that Kahata was one of the rebels who led go-slows whenever there were salary delays, forcing the club to dispense with him but he disagrees.
“I had a special relationship with those fans and I miss the atmosphere dearly. To some extent, the environment and character of the supporters in both Simba and Gor is similar and so it kind of feels surreal.
K’Ogalo is a big club and remains family and just for the record, I left in good terms and my relationship even with the office is great,” said the player.
But while he is amazed by the organisation of the Tanzanian league, Kahata admits the Kenyan top flight still has better quality players.