Time is running short for Tanzania to host U-17 finals
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TANZANIA has begun to make preparations towards hosting the Africa Youth Championship (AYC), almost two years before the kick off in 2019.

As it was announced early this week in Dar es Salaam by the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) through its Technical Director, Salum Madadi, preparations have already begun to ensure the country hosts the memorable youth finals.

As explained by Madadi, already the government and other sports stakeholders have jumped into the bandwagon to support TFF in its maiden mission. From what Madadi noted they are all stepping towards the right direction as there is the best infrastructure system to enable the country stage better and quality finals.

While we take hosting CAF-level event as a simple mission, there are a lot to be done to make our mission be accomplished. To be prepared as a country seeking to host one of the best finals at the continental level, first we must consider what CAF seriously wants from the hosting nation, and as well, how is our team prepared to face other finalists?

Confederation of African Football (CAF) requires a country chosen to stage big tournaments like AYC and to have at least two modern playing stadiums of which, without doubt we have.

There is the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam which qualifies for the final and the Uhuru Stadium just close nearby. Therefore, we don’t expect to see all matches at the group stage being played at one venue, hence, a venue outside Dar es Salaam must be prepared before the kick off.

Together with a quality playing arena, the second venue, according to CAF regulations, must have quality training grounds which will also serve as bases of the competing teams. It is not known about the second venue, but TFF must take initiative to refurbish one of the stadia in either Arusha or Mwanza or Zanzibar to serve as the second hosting city.

The three cities can qualify in terms of some facilities, but Sheikh Amri Abeid in Arusha, CCM Kirumba and Amaan need major overhaul to meet the standard.

Furthermore, as the federation’s Technical Director noted, the country must start now preparing youth aged be low 14 or 15 years who will turn seventeen by the time the country hosts the final.

The youth must be engaged in intensive and extensive training sessions so as to keep them in good condition prior to the commencement of the tournament, despite being assured by the youth team’s Technical Advisor, Kim Poulsen that technically Tanzania will be more than ready for the finals.

We are relieved to hear, thought little doubting that there is a cream, of 22 players under the age of 14 who were selected in 2015 from all the 30 regions across the country and are currently attending Alliance High School in Mwanza.

It is also motivating to see them receiving free education while attending daily training with local coaches. Since the country will be hosting the finals for the first time TFF must have a a development plan for the next U-17 team.

This is a very big deal for Tanzania because it is the first time and when you are the host. But what we see as a setback is poor response from the Tanzanians football fans. We have seen a very poor response in the matches that don’t involve the country big guns, Simba, Young Africans and Azam.

We think TFF and football stakehold ers can start now promoting the finals by giving people awareness on every important move being done. We believe proper promotion of the finals will draw other important players in hotel, tourism and other important services and show them how they can benefit from the arrival of the finals in their cities.

It was motivating to see many Tanzania were keenly following the national Under-17 football side, Serengeti Boys while playing for the first time in the 12th Edition of the AYC finals staged this year in Gabon.

We would suggest to TFF to ensure more Tanzania rally behind the team this time when we host the finals as what we saw in Gabon, Tanzanian boys can do wonders. The country narrowly missed a place in the World U-17 finals after finishing on equal points (4) and goal difference (0) with Niger.

Boys lost after Niger ended with superior head-to-head record. Convincingly, Serengeti Boys drew with defending champions Mali before beating Angola 2-1 in their two opening matches and needed a draw against Niger to sail to the semis and also book a slot in the U17 FIFA World Cup.

We can do it and our boys surely can do it better at home, it’s everyone’s task to ensure the goals are met.

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