Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Information Officer Boniface Wambura confirmed that the Tout Puissant Mazembe attacking duo will not be available for the preliminary round double header against Zimbabwe due to club commitment.
“Samata and Ulimwengu will be playing for the club the same weekend Taifa Stars host Zimbabwe, so definitely they will not be available,” he said.
“It should be remembered that the 2015 AFCON qualifiers fall outside the FIFA Calendar,” he added. Last week, FIFA stated that clubs do not have to release their players for the 2015 African Cup of Nations opening round qualifiers.
The world football governing body said dates for the opening qualifying rounds fall outside the FIFA calendar for international matches, so clubs are not obliged to release players.
The FIFA Media Department said: “Release of players is only possible upon mutual agreement between the national associations and the clubs to which the players belong.
There is no obligation for the clubs to release their players on these dates.” That means TP Mazembe do not have to release Samata and Ulimwengu for the first round of qualifiers, as those dates could clash with the CAF Champions League group stage match against Al Hilal Omdurman due May 17.
The absence of the striking pair, unarguably the most reliable supply of goals for the Stars at the moment, will be a massive loss for newly-appointed Taifa Stars head coach Mart Nooij, who watched his lads fail to find the back of the net as they played out a goalless draw with Malawi in an international friendly match in Mbeya on Sunday.
However, Nooij is not expected to add new faces to his squad before the first leg against the Warriors to be played at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on May 18.
Wambura said the TFF was trying to get Qatar-based midfielder Mwinyi Kazimoto for the crucial first leg, in which the Tanzania outfit must win to be in an advantageous position ahead of the return leg due a fortnight later in Harare.
“Kazimoto is the only player that we’re trying to get in touch with, we’re still communicating with his parent club and hopeful we will get him,” he said.
Should the Stars knock out Zimbabwe, they will come up against the winner between Mozambique and South Sudan, with the first leg match to be played between July 18 and 20 while the return leg will be played two weeks later.
Meanwhile, Nooij said he was satisfied with his side’s performance against Malawi, saying the team showed significant improvement from their dismal display in the 3-0 defeat at the hands of Burundi previously.