TAIFA Stars received heroic welcome in Dar es Salaam yesterday upon arrival from Sudan where the beat hosts 2-1 to become the first nation to reach the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Cameroon.
Gallant Stars players who had a brilliant comeback on Friday night against Sudan’s Desert Hawks after coming from a goal down to win 2-1 at the end, were accorded by thousands Tanzanians at the Julius Nyerere Airport terminal III when they arrived yesterday afternoon.
Playing with determination Stars shocked their hosts Sudan with a 2-1 victory at El Merreikh Stadium in Omdurman and cruised into the CHAN finals on away goal rule after the aggregate score read 2-2.
Sudan won 1-0 in the first leg match in Dar es Salaam last month.
Speaking after the team’s arrival, Erasto Nyoni, who scored one of the two goals, commended the support the team received from football stakeholders, team mates and the technical bench, since without them they couldn’t get a ticket to play in the CHAN finals.
“Everyone did his job, we there at last,” he said.
He further requested Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) to ensure the team starts early preparations for the CHAN finals as 2020 is not very far.
On his part skipper and shot stopper Juma Kaseja said he was happy that they were able to execute their job very well as the only target was to qualify for the finals and that goal was achieved away in Sudan.
Kaseja, whose brilliance between the posts helped Tanzania clear Kenyan hurdle in Nairobi, has requested Tanzanians to continue supporting their team as they did during the CHAN qualifiers.
Ditram Nchimbi, who scored the winner for Taifa Stars, said the goal he scored proved he deserved a call to serve his nation and that his efforts have proved wrong to his doubters.
Delighted with qualification, TFF President Wallace Karia lauded the team’s overall performance saying the mission has been accomplished to enable the country to write a new chapter once again.
However, Karia, who also thanked the support of all the football stakeholders for the achievement, disclosed that after CHAN qualification, the target is met and their next assignment is Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
During the Friday night match in Sudan, the hosts under the tutelage of Zdravko Logarusic, had the lion share of support from their fans and had to wait till the half hour mark to celebrate when Amir Kamal broke the deadlock from outside the area cultivating on Taifa Stars’ defensive laxity.
But Stars came back in the second half a rejuvenated side and it was veteran defender Erasto Nyoni who restored parity from a free-kick five minutes after the restart.
It was in the 79th minute Ditram Nchimbi shocked Sudan’s supporters when he slammed home the winner finishing Shaaban Iddi Chilunda’s solo efforts.
It is the second time for Tanzania to make it into CHAN finals. The first time was in 2009 when the team was under the tutelage of Brazilian tactician, Marcio Maximo.
Like in 2009 Tanzania defeated Sudan 5-2 on aggregate.
Tanzania now joins the hosts Cameroon who have automatically qualified for the biennial tournament that has been won by the Democratic Republic of Congo (twice), Tunisia, Libya and Morocco.