TAIFA Stars heroic goalkeeper Juma Kaseja said no coach in his playing career has ever taught him how to save penalties, saying it is just a gift from God.
Kaseja was once again a Taifa Stars hero after saving one penalty out of the three fired at his goal on Sunday at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam during his team’s gallant march to the next stage of the 2022 F IF A World Cup Qatar courtesy of a 3-0 post match penalties victory over Burundi.
The sparkling match ended in a balance of 1-1 after normal period of play thereby forcing it to 30-minute extra time, but still, goals to separate them were hard to come by, hence forcing shootouts as the only option to decide who deserves the group up stage.
Frustrating figure of Kaseja between the posts saw Burundi failing to convert a single shot after all their three penalties squandered while the home team smartly converted theirs to send 60,000- capacity into a wild celebration.
Following the victory Taifa Stars are among the 14 countries that will play in the group stage joining 26 other countries that got byes due to their superior positions in the FIFA World rankings.
However, reacting after the match to the members of the media who chanted his name before and after the briefing, Kaseja revealed that he has been trading in the country’s top flight league for almost 19 years and that no coach has told him how to save spot-kicks. “To me, I think this is the gift that God blessed me with since he gives all of us unique abilities,” K aseja said while insisting that people across the country should rally behind Stars all the way into the competition.
He added that they (players) were fully moved motivated by the backing from home supporters, calling it as a catalyst that contributed much to their victory.
Asked why he was not included in the senior team squad for a long time, Kaseja replied that maybe coaches at the helm of Taifa Stars by then saw him as incomplete as such; he requested fans to bury the past and focus on the future.
“We have started the battle together, we should stick together and finish together because the national team is for every Tanzanian,” the K MC shot-stopper said.
Again, queried to comment about failure of Taifa Stars strikers to score enough goals during competitive games, Kaseja said that scenario does not mean that the team’s firing line is blunt but that they (strikers) need ample time to play together since in their respective clubs, they do score.
On his part, Stars Assistant Coach Juma Mgunda lauded Tanzanians for their impressive support towards ensuring that the team jumps into the group stages.
“Our target has been materialised. As the technical bench, we have pointed areas which demand improvement ahead of other upcoming clashes in the contest,” he said.
His Burundian counterpart Alain Niyungeko said both teams played good football unlike in the first leg held in Bujumbura to the extent that the winning side had to emerge from penalty shootouts.
Commenting on all the three penalties they missed, Niyungeko said fatigue among his charges after the game entered into the extra time was the main factor which prevented them from scoring. “I can not blame anybody for missing the spot-kicks.
They were tired but all in all, we will be happy to see Tanzania playing in World Cup since our mission is to develop African football,” he said.