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Stars eye Mambas success

TAIFA Stars attacking midfielder Nizar Khalfan (front) undergoes sprint workouts with teammates as the national team players attend evening training session at the National Stadium on the eve of their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Mozambique to be played at the same venue on Wednesday. (Photo by Mohamed Mambo)TAIFA Stars head coach, Jan Poulsen, has said his squad will do whatever it takes to win Wednesday’s first leg of the 2013 AFCON Qualifiers against Mozambique in Dar es Salaam as the team plots a successful spell in the qualifiers.

Stars hosts Mozambique at the National Stadium in a tricky opening duel of the qualifiers, in which a win is vital to the hosts’ plan to stay in  better position to progress to the next stage. “We played Mozambique a year and a half ago in an international friendly match and we lost 2-0.

We know Mozambique is a strong team but we are prepared to face them”, said Poulsen. Poulsen stopped short of promising a win over the Mozambicans in today’s encounter but said his side was in an upbeat mood, ready to confront their opponents and push them all the way.

“I hope it will be an exciting match, so, people should come and cheer Taifa Stars”, said the Danish tactician. He said his players were doing well in the preparations and he was looking forward to an exciting match based on the competence of the Mozambique squad.

“As you can see, I have called Vincent (Barnabas) to the squad and everything is going on very well”, he said. Barnabas, who plays for Morogoro’s Mtibwa Sugar in the Mainland Premier League, is the latest player to have been added to the Taifa Stars squad as Poulsen seeks to strengthen the team ahead of Wednesday’s match. 

Stars will be playing Mozambique for the third time in the AFCON Qualifiers, in which the former managed a draw in the first game and lost the second. Stars, which was then under Brazilian coach, Marcio Maximo, forced a barren draw with Mozambique at the latter’s backyard in the 2008 AFCON Qualifiers but then suffered a painful 1-0 defeat at the ultra-modern National Stadium in the return leg duel.

Mozambique’s head coach, Gert Engels, said his side was equally looking forward to a good game and will take the match seriously given that the team is keen on making it to the 2013 AFCON finals in South Africa. “We are looking forward to the game…we will take it as the first half.

Qualifying for the 2013 AFCON finals is the target of almost everybody and Mozambique is obviously keen on doing that,” said the German tactician. Engels, who is coaching Mozambique for the first time, harbours high hopes of guiding his squad to the finals in South Africa, insisting the Mozambicans can realize their dreams if they embark on better preparations.

“If you look at the champions of this year’s AFCON (Zambia) and the performance of some of the tournament favourites, you will find that nothing is impossible…if we prepare well, nothing is impossible”, he said.

Engels said his squad will bank on, among others, professionals that ply their trade in Portugal, Romania and South Africa, who are led by striker, Dario Monteiro, currently playing for Esporte Clube Bahia in Brazil after featuring for Super Sport United and Mamelodi Sundown in the South Africa Premier League (SPL).

Stars played an international friendly match against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam last Thursday to prepare for Wednesday’s qualifiers, in which the two sides shared the spoils with a barren draw.

over 8 years ago