TAIFA Stars overcame first half scare to hold hosts Benin 1-1 in FIFA date friendly match at Stade de l ‘Amities in Benin capital, Cotonou yesterday.
Held at a poor state pitch, the match saw the hosts scoring first through a controversial penalty to end the first half leading 1-0. Taifa Stars who came a rejuvenated side netted the equalizer just five minutes after a restart.
Overall, Mudathir Yahya, Simon Msuva, Shiza Kichuya and Elias Maguli played classic football in the away pitch. Benin began the match promisingly as they forced Stars to defend in big numbers within their own territory to avoid an early goal.
However, the wet pitch following short rains, made playing difficult for Stars but looked an advantage to the hosts. Most often, Benin looked dangerous whenever they crossed the centre line, especially the left flank where Gadiel Michael stood.
Taifa Stars defenders led by seemingly matured Abdi Abdi played a cautious marking. In some period there occurred poor coordination at the defence, something that nearly cost Stars dearly, especially in the 89th minute, when Benin capitalized on Stars defensive mix-up, but their strikes fired far above the target.
Banda who was assisted by Kelvin Yondani, Gadiel Michael and skipper Himid Mao, who played as the right back for Stars did an extra job, especially in the early and dying minutes to deny the hosts’ goal-hungry strikers.
Midway into the first half, Stars players got back into the game and started to push for more men upfront hoping to make a positive impact with Elias Maguli trading as the solo striker for Stars following the absence of the country’s hitman, Mbwana Samatta.
Benin scored the opener in the 30th minute through a controversial penalty awarded to the hosts by a Benin referee. Actually it was a Benin player, Khaled Adenon, who handed the ball outside the Taifa Stars danger zone, and to everyone’s amazement, referee Ligali Praphiou awarded the hosts a penalty, which Stephane Sessegnon who plays for French club, Montpellier converted.
Stars responded strongly to the goal a few minutes later when Simon Msuva made the best run into Benin penalty box, but was easily blocked by a forest of defenders.
The former Yanga player also had a promising shot few minutes before the end of first half, only his strike was punched over by Benin custodian. Aishi Manula, who guarded Stars post was the busiest player as he was being forced to make daring saves that could have inflicted further pain to Stars.
Benin: Fabien Farnole, Rodrigue Fassinou, Khaled Adenon, Cedric Hountonji, David Kiki, Djiman Koukou, Olivier Verdon, Jodel Dossou, Stephane Sessegnon, David Djigla Dossou na Steve Mounie.
Tanzania; Aishi Manula, Himid Mao, Gardiel Michael, Abdi Banda, Kelvin Yondan, Hamisi Abdallah/Jonas Mkude (75 min), Simon Msuva/Boniphace Maganga (85min), Mudathir Yahya/Nurdin Chona(92 min), Elias Maguli, Raphael Daudi/Mbaraka Yusuph (54 min) and Shizza Kichuya/Ibrahim Ajib (65 min).