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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
A political football
By Emmanuel Muga
BBC Sport, Dar es Salaam

Jakaya Kikwete from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi
Kikwete wants to put Tanzania on the world football map
When it comes to election time, most politicians tend to focus their quest for high office on promises to improve social services and fight corruption and crime.

In Tanzania, however, football has become a major campaign issue in the run-up to the general elections at the end of October.

Jakaya Kikwete from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Professor Ibrahim Lipumba of the main opposition Civic United Front have both pledged to turn around the sport around if elected.

As is the case across Africa, football in Tanzania is more popular than politics and no organisation comes under greater media scrutiny than the country's football federation.

To hear politicians making promises to improve our football gives me hope
Leodegar Tenga
There are 15 sports newspapers in Tanzania - three of them published daily - and each of the country's 12 radio stations devote large amounts of airtime to football matters.

"It's very sad that Tanzania is a poor football country. If elected, I promise to put this country on the world football map," declared Kikwete, who is tipped to win the polls.

"I will make sure we produce our own Okochas, El Hadji Dioufs and Zinedine Zidanes here," he added.

Prof Lipumba, meanwhile, has criticised the current government for "ignoring football" and has promised to take the Taifa Stars to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa if elected.

"We're very poor because the sports ministry has not done enough. If elected, I will sit down with the federation and come up with plans that will turn our country into a football superpower," he pledged at one of his campaign rallies.

The president of the Tanzania Football Federation Leodegar Tenga told BBC Sport that his main hope is for politicians to turn their promises into reality once they get elected.

He said: "The government has thus far offered us only moral and no material support. But to hear politicians making promises to improve our football gives me hope."

Tanzania are ranked 173rd in the world by Fifa and have not qualified for the African Cup of Nations finals since 1980.


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