ENGLISH Premier League side Everton FC jetted in the country yesterday ahead of their historic preseason friendly with SportPesa Super Cup winners Kenya’s Gor Mahia at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam this evening.
The Blues travelled directly from Liverpool John Moore’s airport and touched down around 10am (EAT). The trip to Tanzania celebrates the Club-record partnership with gaming giant, SportPesa. Striker Wayne Rooney and fellow players were all smiles as Ronald Koeman’s side was received at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam by Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe.
The Blues winger, a DR Congo international Yannick Bolasie received a hero’s welcome from hordes of Congolese fans at the airport. Bolasie, who has 31 caps and eight goals for his country, received a warm welcome from supporters, who chanted Bolasie’s name and waved speciallyprinted flags.
Bolasie’s admirers then proceeded to follow the team coach on scooters and tuktuks, continuing their chants! The players arrived at the Sea Cliff Hotel to be welcomed by a Maasai tribe, with plenty of locals there to greet the Blues as well.
Captain Leighton Baines said the players are excited to experience what Tanzania has to offer over the next few days. “We received a very warm welcome,” he said. “It is very interesting for us as the Maasai welcome is not something we see at home.
We’ve just come straight off the plane and we are all excited to be here. “We will train tonight (yesterday) and we are looking forward to the game tomorrow (today). But it’s mostly about fitness at this point as we’ve only been back just over a week.
It will be a good exercise for us and hopefully the local fans will turn out and enjoy it.” Prior to the training at the National Stadium, the squad took part in several cultural experiences including the Tanzanian food cooking challenge.
Two teams of Everton stars squared off against each other. Defender Phil Jagielka and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were pitted against Davy Klaassen and Matty Pennington in a contest that tested their culinary skills, with the teams trying their hand at two typical Tanzanian dishes.
Jagielka and Dominic had white snapper with ‘Ugali’, a maize stiff porridge, while Davy and Matty were given ‘NdiziNyama’ – plantain with meat. Assisted by Niko, the head chef of the Sea Cliff Hotel, the two teams learnt more about Tanzanian cuisine and created two delicious dishes that were then tried by Blues ambassador Graham Stuart, who picked his winner.
A little over an hour after touching down in Tanzania, Muhamed Besic, Michael Keane and Tom Davies were out in Dar es Salaam to meet members of Albino United Football Club. The Blues trio called in at the Uhuru Stadium to take part in a training session and handed out gifts, with every player being given a brand new 2017/18 Everton away shirt.
The Everton contingent spoke with Albino United Coach Alex Kashasha to find out the background of the team. Albino United was set up to show the world that those with condition can enjoy playing football, just like everyone else. Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan will be the guest of honour of the pre-season friendly encounter kicking off at 5pm local time, 3pm UK.
Gor Mahia FC have earned the chance to play Everton in a pre-season game in Tanzania, after they were crowned SportPesa Super Cup champions having thrashed 3-0 their fellow Kenyan side AFC Leopard in the final staged at the Uhuru Stadium last month in Dar es Salaam.
Squad that landed in Tanzania include: Maarten Stekelenburg, Mateusz Hewelt, Chris Renshaw, Tom Davies, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Callum Connolly, Jonjoe Kenny, Michael Keane, Muhamed Besic, Leighton Baines, Morgan Schneiderlin, James McCarthy, Davy Klaassen, Gareth Barry, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Joe Williams, Kieran Dowell, Kevin Mirallas, Wayne Rooney, Aaron Lennon, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, Matthew Pennington, Yannick Bolasie.