Samatta issues Stars rallying cry
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TAIFA Stars players train at Boko ground in Dar es Salaam, yesterday, ahead of their international friendly match against Malawi at the Uhuru Stadium in the city, tomorrow. (Photo by Mohamed Mambo)

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NATIONAL team, Taifa Stars skipper, Mbwana Samatta has appealed to all Tanzanians to support the team in its forthcoming international assignments, including tomorrow’s friendly against Malawi’s Flames.

Taifa Stars will host ‘The Flames’ at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam in a match to be played during FIFA week for international matches, which started yesterday until Wednesday. In run up to the encounter, Samatta has appealed to football fans to forget about the team’s past results and focus on the future.

“Please come and support the team ... I know the recent past results have not been convincing enough, but we should forget about the past and keep our focus on supporting the team to recover and perform well in the coming assignments,” said the Belgium topflight league side KRC Genk striker.

The hit-man asked fans to flock the venue in their numbers, promising that the team will not let them down. Taifa Stars were eliminated in the 2018 CHAN finals and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Algeria evicted Stars in its campaign for a ticket to Russia World Cup finals with 9-2 goals on aggregate.

Stars held Algeria to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the second round at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, but had suffered a humiliating 7-0 defeat in the return leg in Algiers. Salum Mayanga’s charges have now set their focus on the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

Coach Mayanga will use the match against ‘The Flames’ to gauge the ability of each player as he is deter mined to form a formidable squad that will prosper in the qualifiers. “We are still in the process to select a broad team which will be used for the upcoming matches of AFCON qualifiers, hence all these friendly games we play are vital for squad reinforcement,” Mayanga said.

Tanzania is pooled in group L alongside Uganda, Cape Verde and Lesotho. Winners from each group of the qualifiers will book a ticket for the AFCON finals to be hosted in Cameroon. The central African nation is also the tournament’s defending champions.

In the kick of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers campaign, Stars failed to utilise the home ground advantage after being held to a 1-1 draw by Lesotho at the Azam Complex in Dar es Salaam on June 10th, this year.

The next game will be against Uganda Cranes in Kampala, Uganda in March next year. The last time Tanzania qualified for the AFCON finals was in 1980 in Nigeria. Taifa Stars last played Malawi in June at the Council for Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) Cup, winning 2-0 in group stages.

Meanwhile, Malawi were expected to jet in Dar es Salaam yesterday ready for the clash. Flames tactician Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) is said to have named several new faces in his squad to face Stars.

The team will miss the service of its Zambian based attacking midfielder, Dalitso Sailesi whose club Lusaka Dynamos has refused to release him for the encounter. They will also miss skipper Limbikani Mzava, who is nursing injuries.

Among those in the new looking Flames squad is Mighty Be Foreward Wanderer’s winger Felix Zulu and Civil Sporting Club’s duo of Rightious Banda and Fletcher Bandawe. Silver Striker’s goalkeeper Brighton Mhango also makes a comeback to the Flames squad alongside clubmate Levison Maganizo.

The Belgian tactician has also kept the faith in Nyasa Big Bullet’s backline of captain John Lanjesi, Yamikani Fodya and Miracle Gabeya.

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