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Why Taifa Stars look to be potential surprise package

THE draw for the Group Phase of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 that took place on Tuesday in Cairo, Egypt, came at a time when Mbwana Samatta’s move to Aston Villa went viral.

Just after its release, pundits and African football enthusiasts who commented about group J teams, labeled Tanzania, who made it from a fourth pot as the potential surprise package. It is good to see who will make Tanzania a potential surprise package and likely the team’s skipper Samatta, will be the one to lead it.

The group phase draw shows who Samatta and his team mates will face in the tough race for Qatar finals. The top team, according to the FIFA rankings is Democratic Republic of Congo followed by Benin and Madagascar while Tanzania comes as the fourthranked.

Samatta, as an inspirational skipper is heaped with a big responsibility to guide his team in the six-match mission that will decide if Tanzania qualifies for play-off stage which, at the end will pick the best five teams to play in the World Cup.

Responsibility heaped Samatta has is the most capped striker and the national team’s top scorer with 20 goals. Samatta, who started playing for the national team in 2012, has already won 56 caps and scored 20 goals and if he plays in all six matches of the World Cup qualifiers, he will have 62 caps to his credit.

Simon Msuva, who is Samatta’s perfect lieutenant, as evidenced through his impressive record at the international level, is also the country’s vital player in the whole campaign.

Msuva who has been featuring for Taifa Stars since 2012 has won 59 caps, three more than Samatta, and managed to score 12 goals for his nation. If Msuva wins a call to serve his nation in the World Cup mission, he will hit 65 caps if he plays in all six games of the campaign.

While the two seem to be the key players in Taifa Stars striking force, Erasto Nyoni and Kelvin Yondani, likely to write new chapters of their career if head coach, Etienne Ndayiragije picks them for Qatar mission. Simba SC defender Nyoni is Tanzania’s most capped player and the most active alumni of Marcio Maximo squad.

Nyoni, who started playing for Taifa Stars in 2006, has already won 88 caps, hence if he features again for the Stars can hit 94 caps in his 14th year career for the nation. The second-most capped player is Young Africans defender Kelvin Yondani who has worn 82 caps so far.

Yondani who played for Taifa Stars since April 4th, 2008 will be making his 12th year with the national team. Though their presence as the most experienced players will count a lot to the team, the two veterans will also be writing new chapters in their long career if they win a re-call.

Still apart from international level strikers; Samatta and Msuva, there is a convincing performance of Azam youth, Shaaban Iddi Chilunda, who is arguably one of the youngest players at age of 21. Though he is a single-digit capped player, he and his team mate Iddi Seleman likely to be future stars if they managed to convince coach Ndayiragije.

Frank Domayo, who is aged age 26, has won 39 caps, just three above his Azam team mate Salum Abubakar who is aged age 30 with 36 caps. They too are potential players for the World Cup mission. There is still not a wellknown candidate suitable to guard the posts.

Aishi Manula, who was the number one choice during the AFCON Finals in Egypt, seems to be losing a grip to his team mate Benno Kakolanya while Young Africans keeper Metacha Mnata is trumpeting his skills with a high note. Tanzania is one of the 40 African countries engaged in the Second Round of the qualifying campaign.

They are divided into ten groups of four teams each for the penultimate stage of the continental journey to Qatar. This qualifying phase starts in March 2020 and comes to an end in October 2021. Ten teams will make it after this stage.

For the third and final round, the ten group winners will be drawn into five two-legged knockout ties to be played in November 2021.

GROUP A: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Djibouti

GROUP B: Tunisia, Zambia, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea

GROUP C: Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Liberia

GROUP D: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Malawi

GROUP E: Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda

GROUP F: Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Angola

GROUP G: Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia

GROUP H: Senegal, Congo, Namibia, Togo

GROUP I: Morocco, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan

GROUP J: DR Congo, Benin, Madagascar, Tanzania

It is worth to know that the teams in Pot 3 like Madagascar have made significant progress in recent times and look increasingly capable of taking that last step.

Tanzania from the fourth and final pot is an indication of the quality on show in the group phase.

THOUGH only eighteen Premier League games have been ...

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Author: MIGUEL SULEIMAN

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