NATIONAL team, Taifa Stars Head Coach, Salum Mayanga, praised his team for gallant performance that saw them winning bronze at the 2017 COSAFA Cup in South Africa.
Taifa Stars defeated Lesotho 4-2 on penalties following a goalless draw in the third-place play-off match at the Moruleng Stadium in Moruleng on Friday. As a result, Taifa Stars finished third in the tournament, while the Crocodiles finished fourth.
Tanzania participated in the tournament organised by the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) as a guest nation. Mayanga was pleased with the heroic penalty save by goalkeeper Said Mohammed, which earned the team the coveted bronze and 10,000 US dollar (about 20m/-) cash prize.
Mohammed parried off skipper Thapelo Mokhehle’s shot. Lesotho’s Sera Motebang’s shot also came off the right bar, while Hlompho Kalake and Tsoanelo Koetle scored from their kicks.
For Taifa Stars, Shiza Kichuya saw his high ball bouncing off the top bar, while skipper Himid Mao, Simon Msuva, Abdi Banda and Raphael Daudi converted their kicks.
“It was generally a good performance from the team and it really feels good to reach this far and it has really motivated us ahead of forthcoming continental assignments,” Mayanga said.
The former Mtibwa Sugar coach utilised the event in South Africa as part of its preparations for the 2018 African Nations championship (CHAN) qualifiers, especially their opening game against Rwanda as well as 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
Stars will take on Rwanda’s Amavubi in the 2018 CHAN qualifiers, with the first leg match slated for next weekend at the CCM-Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza and the return leg encounter will be staged a week later in Kigali.
Mayanga charges are targeting to kick off their campaign positively. “COSAFA Cup has put my players in good shape for the clash against Rwanda ... and our target is to keep improving and excel in the AFCON qualifiers as well,” he said.
In the game against Lesotho, Taifa Stars shot-stopper Said Mohammed was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first ten minutes of the encounter as the Crocodiles searched for an early goal.
The keeper made a save from a rising effort from Tumelo Khutlang in the first minute, before denying the Lesotho forward again in the 10th minute. Crocodiles continued to press the Taifa Stars and in the 24th minute, Jane Thaba-Ntšo forced Mohammed into another good save.
Pressure was mounting on the Taifa Stars and Mohammed was called into action again in the 35th minute and he denied Thaba-Ntšo for the second time. The score was 0-0 during halftime break following a first-half which was dominated by Lesotho.
The Tafia Stars started the second-half brightly with Salmin Hoza unleashing a shot which was saved by Lesotho keeper Sam Ketsekile. With his side struggling to break the deadlock, Lesotho head Coach Moses Maliehe introduced Mabuti Potloane on the hour-mark.
Lesotho should have taken the lead in the 74th minute, but Mohammed produced a great save to deny Sera Motebang - keeping Tanzania in the game in the process. This proved to be the last chance of the match and the match ended in a goalless stalemate and the two teams went into a penalty shootout.
Meanwhile, Zambia and Zimbabwe will decide the COSAFA Cup today with one of them to set a new record for the most number of wins in the annual southern African championship after they both won Wednesday’s semi-final assignments at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Both finalists have won the Cup four times before and will play in the deciding match against each other for the fourth time.