Was Ghana a good test for Serengeti Boys?
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THE country’s flag bearers at the U-17 Africa Youth Championship in Gabon forced a 2-2 draw with Ghana’s Black Starlets in their last international friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

It was a good opportunity for Serengeti Boys to play and test their skills against a team from one of the leading countries in African football. From a two-goal down, the brave Boys proved to millions of Tanzanians that they are hard-fighters and courageous after they levelled the score at the end of tense 90 minutes.

From the way the match was played, it looked obvious that Ghanaians were formidable in all sections. The team’s technical bench under Bakari Shime might have noticed some differences and what came as weaknesses to be sorted out before going to Gabon.

But, the most obvious lesson which demands immediate attention from the technical bench is the team-work style. Ghanaians seemed to outnumber Serengeti Boys if you keenly watched the match due to the way the team attacked and defended. It seemed one player could do the job of two other players.

In most of their attacks, you could find six players at Serengeti Boys’ goal, but when you attack them there are eight players defending the goal. Picking Black Starlets, to many was a good choice as the match served as a good platform for Serengeti Boys to test their skills.

For many, the match missed the much needed home ground status due to the poor attendance. The Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe was there with a few schoolchildren to cheer the team.

This, however, will not be the case in Gabon as most Tanzanians will watch their boys on television hence Serengeti Boys should always put in their mind that the spirits of their home supporters will always be with them for the entire period of the tournament.

Having won the previous two build-up matches against Burundi and easily winning them, came into focus due to its reputation as continent’s big name after having clinched the youth competition twice.

Although both teams have made it to Gabon, their form of play differ, hence each of them had a lesson to learn. Lack of coordination and consistence at the midfield department of the team were among the areas that need to be addressed.

The visitors (Starlets) had free movement with the ball at the centre which means that they could create more scoring chances than Serengeti Boys as noted by Williard Patrick, a resident of Temeke in Dar es Salaam, who watched the thrilling game live from the National Stadium.

Definitely football has changed nowadays such that if you win the midfield battle, you stand the better position to emerge triumphant at the end. Additionally, in this scenario, you protect your defenders hence less goals to your side.

Remember we are going to play in the major tournament and perhaps the teams we will face in our group shall play a better game than Ghana. We will play against Mali, also among the successful African countries in running junior football programmes.

Serengeti Boys must put into consideration that scoring more than you concede makes a team win, therefore while going there, the technical bench must strengthen the attacking force and create scoring system. As one of the commentators said during the match, the powerful striking force is created by hardworking midfielders.

Prior to the game, Minister Mwakyembe who officially handed over the national flag to Serengeti Boys expressed his wish that the team will remarkably perform well in the tournament and head to India for FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The Minister added that the flag was a symbol of trust that they will execute their job well on behalf of millions of Tanzanians. He urged Serengeti Boys to work hard for their country.

Here, it means all is set for the U-17 Boys to act diligently while being fully aware that Tanzanians want nothing less than winning the prestigious U-17 Africa Cup of the Nation silverware which shall help to re-write the country’s soccer history.

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