Go on Stars, qualifying for World Cup is possible

TANZANIA: AS Taifa Stars gears up to face Zambia in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, it is time to take a deep overview of the preparations that the envoys have had ahead of this crucial match.

The interface at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, Zambia on Tuesday next week in a sparkling game is set to attract the attention of many people.

Historically, there has never been an easy match whenever the duo faces each other on the ground with each part playing lungs out to stamp success.

Throughout the 90 minutes of play, the neighbourhood aspect of the two teams is left aside momentarily as the 22 men do what they like most to represent well their respective countries.

It is good to see that the country’s flag bearers engage in five signal testing matches before flying out to play Zambia and this is admirable when it comes to stamping tangible results. In football, playing friendly games before embracing major competitions is very important as it helps to create a pattern of play among the selected players for them to put into practice whatever they have learnt.

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Stars preparations for the World Cup qualifiers began during the 2024 FIFA Series staged in Azerbaijan where they played two strong friendly games to keep the team in perfect shape.

Their first match was against Bulgaria on March 22nd which saw Taifa Stars suffering a slender 1-0 defeat despite showcasing competitive performance.

Immediately after the match, Stars caretaker coach Hemed Suleiman reacted that his charges played a satisfactory football while insisting that it helped him a lot to identify areas that need to be amended before the qualifiers.

Thereafter, they faced Mongolia and Tanzania succeeded in emerging heavy winners following a 3-0 triumph to wind up the newly introduced system in style.

On May 12th, the team travelled to Saudi Arabia where they played two backto-back build-up matches against Sudan held at King Fahad Stadium in Saudi Arabia.

The first match saw Stars going down 2-1 while the second fixture witnessed a 1-1 draw and here, coach Suleiman congratulated his charges for showcasing a good match.

“Our squad is composed of many young players and this is important because they are the ones to take command of the team shortly after retiring of senior players. “Do not forget that in 2027, we will host the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals and by that time, I believe that these players will be mature enough to battle for the glory of their country,” he said.

As this was not enough, the envoys made another long trip to Indonesia for their fifth friendly encounter which was played at GBK Madya Stadium in Indonesia on June 2nd.

The game elapsed goalless as neither side was able to make a breakthrough and according to coach Suleiman, it was a befitting encounter ahead of taking on Zambia.

“We had a good game, the boys fought very well and as a coach, I am fully impressed with the displayed performance and without doubt, it was a good weighing game before the World Cup qualifiers,” he said.

Commenting on the Zambia clash, he admitted that it will be a tough game as they face a strong opponent but he reiterated that they are keenly analysing well their opponents.

“We are closely monitoring them and I do not think that it will be a different squad than the one we played against during the previous AFCON finals in Ivory Coast. “What we need to do is to just keep our heads up and focus on doing well on the pitch… remember each team does feature 11 players and at the sound of the final whistle, anything can happen,” he said.

However, the last time they met was during the 2023 AFCON finals on January 21st this year in a match that elapsed 1-1 as the Stars conceded late to share the spoils.

On the day, the country’s envoys were too close to claiming their first-ever victory in the AFCON finals but that did not materialise.

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