TANZANIA’S Serengeti Boys boosted their hopes of qualifying for World Cup finals in India after cruising to a 2-1 win over Angola in their Group B match at the ongoing U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final in Brazzaville, Gabon yesterday.
The scoreline at the Stade de l’Amitie in the Gabon capital did not reflect performance turned in by Serengeti Boys, who were dominant.
The performance saw the Tanzanian youngsters carve out a countless of scoring chances especially in the second half. But in the end a goal in either half by Kelvin Naftal and Abdul Suleiman, sandwiched by Angola’s equalizing goal, wrapped up a crucial win for the Boys, who temporarily moved top of the group with four points.
The other teams in the group, holders Mali and Niger were facing each other later on the day.
Serengeti Boys head coach Bakari Shime made only one change from his previous starting eleven with Erick Nkosi replacing Shaaban Ada and his charges were the quickest out their blocks.
They dominated the opening exchange, pinning Angola in their own half. The Boys forced two corner kicks inside the opening five minutes and succeeded to take the lead from the second corner with Kelvin Naftal, the goal scorer.
A short corner in the fifth minute gave left full-back Nickson Kibabage chance to whip in a well-measured cross that found Naftal inside the box and he rose high to expertly head the ball past Angola custodian, Nsesani Simao and into the back of the net.
Angola almost drew the parity two minutes later but Asad Juma came to Boys’ rescue when he produced a timely block to deny Orlando Secali, who was clear on goal.
Serengeti Boys continued to boss the proceedings and had two chances from set pieces to try and double their lead but Juma and Kibabage placed their efforts awkwardly off target. Angola pulled level after 17 minutes when the Boys defence was caught napping.
Moises Pedro’s cross went straight into the back of the net thanks to a lapse in the Tanzanian team’s defence.
Serengeti Boys pressed for the second goal as the game progressed but struggled to put their acts together in the final third and had to settle for a 1-all draw at the breather despite being the best team on the pitch.
Shime’s lads carved out some impressive attacking moves on resumption which culminated in a countless missed chances.
Marauding fullback Kibabage did a commendable job down the left flank and weighed in a beautiful cross, nonetheless his ambitious teammate Yohana Mkomola blasted a header wide from the goal.
Apparently worried by Tanzania’s attacking play, Angola resorted to a more defensive approach, committing more players behind the ball and that gave the Boys a headache as they struggled to find a way through.
Abdul Suleiman almost grabbed the much-needed second goal in the 56th minute with a powerful low shot that was kept out by Simao for a futile corner. Ada, then, headed inches wide from a corner kick before Suleiman unleashed a decent free-kick from 25 yards out that slightly missed the target.
Boys continued to enjoy a sustained period of dominance which eventually paid off after Suleiman slammed home the winner, capping up a fine team move that involved Asad Juma and Mkomola.
Tanzania were the dominant force for the remainder of the encounter and were it not for profligacy Shime’s side could have chalked up a comprehensive scoreline.
Serengeti Boys will play their final game against Niger on Sunday as they seek to reach the first ever Under-17 World Cup finals in India. The biennial tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for players aged 17 and below, will see the top four teams qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
Serengeti Boys: Ramadhani Kabwili, Ally Ng’anzi, Nickson Kibabage, Enrick Nkosi, Dickson Job, Abdul Suleiman, Asad Juma, Kibwana Shomari, Ally Msen- gi, Yohana Mkomola and Kelvin Naftal