Stars out to hit ground running


NATIONAL soccer team, Taifa Stars face a tricky fixture against Lesotho in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers at the Azam’s Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.

Stars need a win to hit the ground running in their dream of reaching the first ever AFCON finals since 1980. The AFCON finals will be held in Cameroon. Taifa Stars, which of recent had been on a down spiral need nothing but victory to win back support from the country fans.

Stars has been experiencing a topsy-turvy placing in the monthly FIFA rankings, following dismal campaigns in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers and 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the fact that led to the sacking of former Head coach, Charles Boniface Mkwasa, who was replaced by Salum Mayanga.

Having been paired in Group L in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, alongside Lesotho, Cape Verde Island and Uganda, mathematically it seems to be not so difficult task for the flag bearers even though on ground still remains a puzzle hard to comprehend.

And, against the team they are almost at the same level, Stars’ have got the glorious opportunity to showcase their maturity to win. Mayanga’s lads need to fire from all cylinders to claim maximum points at home to ensure their road to Cameroon starts on a positive note. Victory against Lesotho alias ‘Likuena’ will certainly put Taifa Stars on the better position to challenge for the remaining games in the group.

Stars who failed to qualify for the 2017 edition of the continental showpiece in Gabon are confident of clinching the vital points after their weeklong training camp in Egypt. Stars took part in the continental finals once in 1980 edition held in Nigeria.

Basing on the selection of players in the team many Tanzanians do not see Stars losing to Lesotho but surely the task isn’t easy and players should stay warned that they should be at their best form to get clear victory and put themselves on course for qualification.

Coach Mayanga boosted that after having enough preparations for the match his squad is ready to whip Lesotho. He warned that they will not underestimating their opponents who have a good team which can put a good fight in the game. Stars have been in Egypt for a week preparing for today’s game against Lesotho and they returned to Dar es Salaam on Wednesday ready for the encounter.

“They have shown positive signs and are building confidence ahead of the qualifier,” said Mayanga.

“I’m confident that this team will post positive results against Lesotho on Saturday (today) On his side Stars skipper and Belgian topflight league side KRC Genk striker Mbwana Samatta said they are ready to take on Lesotho and he and his colleagues are well prepared to battle for the crucial three points in the opening game of their group L AFCON qualifiers campaign.

Stars will miss the service of the industrious left-back Mohamed Hussein, who is still nursing sprained ankle.

However, the technical bench has said that his gap will either be filled by Erasto Nyoni or Gadiel Michael.

Speaking about the game, Lesotho Coach Moses Malieho said they are also well prepared to face Stars, acknowledging their hosts are not an easy team to beat. “We played Mozambique ‘Mambas’ in an international friendly tie as part of our preparation for our game against Tanzania and won 1-0 and this show how serious we are.

We are here to fight for positive results although we know Tanzania is not an easy side which comprises good foreign based players,” he said. Lesotho have called up Napo Matsoso, a college student from the USA who left the country at the age of 12, and are set to hand him a debut.

The match will be officiated by referee from Djibouti Abdillah Mohammed and his compatriots Gamaladen Abdi and Farham Salime and fourth official, Twagirumukiza Abdulkarim from Rwanda.

Another group L match will be between the Cranes of Uganda under Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic against Cape Verde to be staged at Estádio da Várzea in Praia in Cape Verde Island today.

The Cranes made their return to the continents top football tournament in Gabon this year since their last appearance in 1978, however, they failed to win a single match as they finished in the group stages sitting at the bottom of Group D.

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