Mbwana Samatta is carrying Tanzania's torch in Europe
He might not be a Didier Drogba but the 26-year-old Tanzanian’s style of play does remind us of the Chelsea legend and his stats are starting to look a lot like those of the retired Ivorian. Mbwana Samatta is a man who is currently unleashing fire from his boots, hot enough to grill whatever it is that can’t be easily grilled. With 16 goals to his name in only 19 league appearances, Mbwana is crafting the stuff of a legend. That’s almost a goal every match! He won our attention and we know no better way to celebrate him than following through the career of the first ever Tanzanian to play European football.
Dar Es Salaam streets
Mbwana Ally Samatta was born and bred in Tanzania, started following his football dream in the dusty streets of Dar Es Salaam before he was in the books of Tanzanian Premier League side, Africa Lyon as a 16-year-old. He has never been a late bloomer and by 2010, when he was 18, Samatta became a professional footballer and made his senior debut with Simba SC, one of the biggest football clubs in the East African nation. He amazingly scored 13 goals in 25 appearances for the club, inevitably attracting one of the big boys of African football. It’s not everyday that you come across an incredibly good East African in the football circles and this I say with utmost respect. They are just uniquely endowed in many other ways, but Samatta is one of the outliers. It became evident when he transferred to one of Africa’s most successful clubs.
TP Mazembe came calling and the second most successful club in the CAF Champions league with five titles, got their man. Samatta wasted no time at the DR Congo outfit, scoring 60 goals in 103 appearances between 2011-16. In that time period, he won the Linafoot, DR Congo’s top flight league title, four times and two other domestic cups. Perhaps the highlight was 2015, when he helped Mazembe to their latest CAF Champions League title after defeating USM Alger of Algeria by 4 -1 on aggregate. The Tanzanian finished the tournament as the top goal scorer with a total of 7 to his name and his crowning moment came that particular year. He won the 2015 CAF African Player Of The Year Award (Based In Africa) ahead of teammate and the “donkey dance” goalkeeper, Robert Kidiaba as well as Algerian Baghdad Bounedjah. Once more, there he was, on the move.
Samatta’s exploits in the year 2015 meant that Belgian Professional League side, K.R.C Genk gave in to the temptation of bringing the Tanzanian to Europe. Up to this day, they have lived not to regret that decision as Samatta already has 31 goals in 73 appearances since joining the three time Belgian First Division A champions in 2016. He is currently the league’s top scorer with 16 to his name and a crucial member of the title chasing Genk setup who are ten points ahead of second placed Club Brugge. The Tanzanian captain also bagged 3 UEFA Europa League goals in 5 matches as Genk reached the last 32 where they will now play Czech Republic’s Slavia Praha in February 2019. With a further 17 goals for the Taifa Stars of Tanzania, Samatta is becoming a national icon and could help his nation to a rare AFCON finals appearance in June 2019 if they can win their final qualifiers match at home, against group leaders Uganda. Also in the Genk squad are African stars, Joseph Aidoo and Joseph Paintsil of Ghana together with DR Congo’s Dieumerci Ndongala.
Make no mistake about it, Samatta has become one of Europe’s most lethal strikers with simplicity marking his style of play. He is not your super skillful footballer but a goal poacher always prying in the box ready to hurt the opponent at all costs. No wonder Premier League side, Cardiff City were interested in bringing him to England in the January transfer window. They are desperately in need of goals and goals is what he can give to them, on a silver platter