DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 20- Bernard Mwalala built the vast of his glory days in active football while turning out in the green and yellow of Dar Young Africans (Yanga) where he was a poster boy and one of the finest attackers the club had in it’s history.
Several years later, Mwalala returns to the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam, this time as a coach and he says he wants to replicate the same glory days he had as a player, now with Bandari FC.
The former Nzoia United head coach will lead Bandari FC for their debut in the third edition of the SportPesa Super Cup and will begin their quest for the title as well as a chance to play English Premier League side Everton FC on Tuesday when they take on Tanzanian side Singida United in the first round.
“I feel great to be back here, I had missed Dar, I had missed Tanzania and the fans who filled stadia during our days. It’s great excitement for me coming back as a coach and I trust we will do well in this tournament,” Mwalala told Capital Sport after their afternoon training session at the Police Grounds in Dar.
Coincidentally, it is the same grounds that Yanga have used for their training sessions over the last several decades and this was hugely nostalgic for the youthful tactician.
Bandari hope in the least to make it to the last four and Mwalala has taken the approach of moving in a game at a time. A spot in the semi will link them up with a bout against either AFC Leopards or Simba.
“We are going in a game at a time. Our focus is on Tuesday’s game against Singida but the biggest thing is that I would like my team to progress and we probably meet one of the big teams in Tanzania so that my players can get that experience of how it feels playing against a team with a full stadium supporting them. It will build them a lot,” Mwalala noted.
Bandari find themselves at an advantageous spot especially over the other Kenyan teams as the weather in Mombasa and Dar are almost the same and they are used to the heat and humidity. Also, the team had their pre-season camp in Zanzibar and are thus more at home coming to Dar.
“I think it is a huge huge advantage for us because we are used to this weather, we had a pre-season in Zanzibar and played against two Tanzanian sides and we feel that we are very ready. Also, we have been doing well in the league and the motivation for the players is very high,” Mwalala noted.
On Singida United, Mwalala is not worried about their tactical preparedness to tackle their opponents who reached the semis of last year’s tournament in Nakuru, Kenya.
“I have played in Tanzania for a very long time so I know how most of the teams play and their styles tactically and technically,” he says.
“Or league starting in December was a blessing in disguise because we have picked up in terms of fitness. We are well prepared, because we have been getting good results and mentally, the boys are sharp,” the tactician stated.
Meanwhile, skipper Felly Mulumba believes that they will be strong enough to tackle opponents but is quick to note that they expect a tough challenge seeing the prize at stake.
“We have been doing well in the league and of course that is some huge motivation for us. But coming through here, we are facing different teams who pose a different challenge. It will be tough but we are ready to fight,” the defender stated.
“We also want to get a feel of these kinds of tournaments and this being our first opportunity, we want to make the best of it. Everyone is focused and we promise to give our best,” he further stated.
Bandari come into the tournament with some good run of form and are placed second in the Kenyan premier League standings with 18 points off eight matches from five wins and three draws.
Competitively, Bandari have not lost since September 30 2018, when they went down to relegated Wazito 2-1 in a league fixture.