Stars eager to extinguish Flames
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NATIONAL football team, Taifa Stars will go head on against Malawi’s Flames in an international friendly match today, knowing that nothing but victory was crucial for the team and country.

Stars will host ‘The Flames’ at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam in a match to be played during FIFA week for international matches, which started on Thursday until Wednesday. Tanzania has in recent past dropped, quite considerably in the FIFA rankings and all due to its failure, for quite a while, to win its FIFA organised matches.

And today’s match is once again, a FIFA organised match, which requires nothing from the players except winning the match in order to lift up the country’s position in the rankings. Ahead of the match, Head Coach Salum Mayanga said they are fully prepared to face Malawi.

Addressing a press conference yesterday at Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) headquarters in Dar es Salaam, Mayanga said his side will approach the game with winning mentality, taking into consideration that they will be playing at home.

“I am very pleased because all members of my squad are in good health and we have been training so hard for the past days prior to tomorrow’s (today) game. “Our opponents (Malawi) are not new to us having played against them in COSAFA Castle Cup in South Africa but this time around will be a different match altogether as they have strengthened their side with their foreign based players as such it will be a good game,” he said.

The Stars’ mentor seized the opportunity to urge supporters to throng the venue so as to backup their team from the first whistle to the final. Skipper Mbwana Samatta said a win in today’s clash will be necessary for the team to climb up World FIFA rankings.

“We are not well positioned in FIFA rankings and we must win tomorrow (today) and in other upcoming matches to enable our team climb up the ladder,” said the Belgium top flight league side KRC Genk striker.

Samatta has appealed to football fans to forget about the team’s past results and focus on the future. “Please come and support the team...I know the recent past results have not been convincing enough but we should forget about the past and keep our focus on supporting the team to recover and perform well in the coming assignments,” he said.

The hit-man asked fans to flock the venue in their numbers, promising that the team will not let them down. Coach Mayanga will use the match against ‘The Flames’ to gauge the ability of each player as he is determined to form a formidable squad that will prosper in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

Tanzania is pooled in group L alongside Uganda, Cape Verde and Lesotho. Winners from each group of the qualifiers will book a ticket for the AFCON finals to be hosted in Cameroon. The central African nation is also the tournament’s defending champions.

In the kick of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers campaign, Stars failed to utilise the home ground advantage after being held to a 1-1 draw by Lesotho at the Azam Complex in Dar es Salaam on June 10th this year.

The next game will be against Uganda Cranes in Kampala, Uganda in March next year. Earlier, the Flames tactician Ronny van Geneugden thanked TFF for inviting them to play a friendly match here and said they will use the encounter as part and parcel for their 2019 Africa cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification game preparation against Morocco in March next year.

“We respect Tanzania because they have a strong team and as usual, the game will be tough. During COSAFA tournament, we were paired in the same group with them and had a chance to see how they play,” said the Belgium coach.

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