TAIFA Stars face a tricky fixture against Uganda Cranes in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers at the Mandela (Namboole) Stadium in Kampala, Uganda tomorrow, and nothing short of victory will fascinate Tanzanians.
Stars need a win to reinvigorate their dream of reaching the first ever AFCON finals since 1980. The AFCON finals will be held in Cameroon.
As the country’s attention was for the past few weeks directed towards the Mainland Premier League, the focus will now switch to the national senior side, Taifa Stars, which of recent had been on a down spiral.
Stars have been experiencing a topsy-turvy placing in the monthly FIFA rankings, following dismal campaigns in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers and 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
However, with the arrival of the Nigerian coach, Emmanuel Amunike, replacing Salum Mayanga, most soccer fans are confident that the former Super Eagles attacker will kick off his reign with a winning start.
Going into tomorrow’s match, Head Coach Amunike picked a 23 strongman squad, and many Tanzanians are hoping for good results based on the kind of preparations the team went through, including a weeklong camp.
Having been paired in Group L in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, alongside Lesotho, Cape Verde Island and Uganda, mathematically it does not seem to be a difficult task for the flag bearers, even though on the ground it still remains a puzzle hard to comprehend.
And, against the team they always struggle to beat, Stars’ have got the glorious opportunity to showcase their maturity to win. Amunike’s lads need to fire from all cylinders to claim maximum points away.
Currently, Taifa Stars occupies the third slot with a single point they garnered in a 1-1 draw at home against Lesotho last year. If Taifa Stars stand tall against the Cranes, they will sit atop of the four-team table with four points, one point above leaders Uganda who tops the pyramid with three points.
Records show that the two sides played a total of 53 games between them, Uganda winning 24 encounters against 10 wins by Taifa Stars, while 14 meetings have ended in draws. The tough fact is that Stars will be playing away and they should expect a harsh atmosphere and maximum support from fans, so Stars should be at their best.
However, basing on the selection of players in the team, many Tanzanians expect Stars to stand tall, but surely the task isn’t easy, and players should be cautioned that they should be at their best form to get clear victory and put themselves on course for qualification.