KENYA President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged Tanzania’s Taifa Stars and Kenya’s Harambee Stars to qualify and go past group stage in the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.
President Uhuru landed in Chato District, Geita Region yesterday, on a private visit and was welcomed by his host — President Magufuli. In his short address, Uhuru said time is ripe for Taifa Stars and Harambee Stars to excel in the continental major football showpiece, saying it was unfortunate that both teams were eliminated in the group stage of the ongoing AFCON edition in Egypt.
“Next time, we need to make sure that our teams go past round one and even reach the final. A win for either side will certainly be victory for us all,” remarked Uhuru.
Teasing with a light touch, Uhuru said that when Taifa Stars and Harambee Stars clashed in the group C encounter in the AFCON finals last week, and the latter registered a 3-2 victory, some people lost their sleep, although it was a brotherhood competitive game.
On his side, Magufuli joked “We had agreed for a 2-2 draw but you broke the agreement and scored the third goal.” Both Taifa and Harambee Stars failed to make it into the last 16 of the AFCON finals.
Taifa Stars ended their campaign in Egypt without a point after losing their entire group C matches, while Harambee Stars managed to collect three points but failed to make a cut as among the four best placed teams in all six groups.
Emmanuel Amunike led charges, who made a return to the tournament after a 39-year absence, lost their opening game to Senegal 2-0 at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on June 23rd, before suffering a narrow 3-2 defeat to their East African neighbours Kenya at the same venue on June 27th.
Stars succumbed to 3-0 defeat at the hands of Algeria’s Desert Foxes at the 30 June Stadium late last Monday night, to end their campaign in the competition without a point.
Harambee Stars on the other hand, lost 2-0 to Algeria on June 23rd, before beating Taifa Stars but lost 3-0 in their last match against Senegal last Monday.
Stars returned home one Thursday, and several pundits have said the 2019 AFCON finals was the learning curve for Stars but deep questions must be asked about the team’s defending.
“This tournament has been the learning curve for Tanzania and it has been a cold room, which most of time they found too hot. They made too many mistakes in defence,” Shaun Bartlett, the former South African football striker said. Former Kenyan international Musa Otieno said Taifa Stars are going to learn some lesson in defence.
“They need to have discipline in the pitch and off the pitch. They need to know once they lose the ball, how are they regrouping. Are they winning the ball as quickly as possible? Nigerian legend, Jay Jay Okocha also said Taifa Stars will go home knowing that they did not do well.
.“They haven’t got what it takes …at this moment to play a part in this tournament. For me this tournament came a bit too early for them. However, I know that they have taken some positives and hopefully they will come back strong next time,” he said