Without doubt, English Premier League is by far the most watched football league in East Africa and Africa in general.
However, the region has found less relevance with the league as it’s poorly represented on pitch since it kicked off in 1992.
To be specific, Victor Wanyama (Kenya), the Burundian duo victor Berahino and Gael Bigirimana were the only three players from East Africa to grace the EPL before Mbwana Samatta’s arrival.
The Tanzanian is set for his league debut after impressing in the EFL cup as Aston Villa ousted Leicester to storm the final in Wembley on Wednesday.
Aston Villa coach Dean Smith expressed his delight with Samatta’s club debut, adding that he will get better once he adjusts to the pace of the game.
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Savio Nsereko, Ugandan-born German player remains to be the closest Uganda was represented. He played for West Ham in 2009 where he featured in 10 games. The Guardian’s Tom Mason later wrote that Nsereko is one of the worst players to ever play in the Premier League.
Ibrahim Dafala, former Uganda Cranes and Express FC captain, was nicknamed the British after he trained with Cardiff City FC and Manchester United is another example of another Ugandan to have come closest to EPL, leave alone the reports of Everton having interest in signing Abdul Lumala.
Uganda, just like other East African nations, have produced stars that can match the standard, quality, explosive pace and power of EPL.
Samatta’s arrival created a lot of anxiety, and his success will not be just a milestone but it may open ears for EPL clubs to start poaching in East Africa as it is in the West Africa.
East Africa’s football is on rise and recent four-nation appearance (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi) at 2019 AFCON, cements the claim.
Recently, International Federation of football history and statistics (IFFHS) included two East African clubs – Simba SC and Gor Mahia – among the top 400 clubs of 2019, however minor it might look.
Son of retired policeman Ally Samatta, Mbwana’s story is one that should inspire many. A story of from rugs to riches. He has battled all the way from Simba, through TP Mazembe, to Genk. And here we are.
It can be Kelvin John, Wilkins Ochieng, Allan Okello, George Gitau next on radar. East Africa, we are close.