TAIFA Stars Head Coach Kim Poulsen has expressed his confidence in the team’s future after a 1-0 win over Libya in their final Group J match of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers clash in Dar es Salaam.
Simon Msuva scored the lone goal of the match a minute before the interval, as Stars finished third in the group with seven points. Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea sealed their tickets into the AFCON finals to be satged in Cameroon.
Tunisia topped the group with 16 points followed by Equatorial Guinea with nine points and Libya at the bottom with three points.
Poulsen said shortly after the game against Libya that although it was a mere formality match, his charges displayed a tactical game and showed determination to win from the onset.
He said though it was the last game of the campaign, they considered the match as the first game of the journey forward in the building a new and stronger Taifa Stars.
“It was our last game in qualifiers campaign but it was the first game of the journey forward in shaping a new and stronger Taifa Stars. “We want to build a better team, more comfortable on passing and the movements on the pitch,” he disclosed.
The Danish tactician was generally pleased with Stars win, which he cited as a retort from their recent heartbreaking defeat from Equatorial Guinea.
Poulsen, who took charge of the team from Burundian Etienne Ndayiragije, led the team in two last games of the qualifiers, in which they lost 1-0 away to Equatorial Guinea before registering victory against Libya.
During the match played at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Msuva nodded home a Deus Kaseke’s assist to give Stars victory over Mediterranean Knights. Poulsen lauded their opponents Libya, saying they gave Stars a good game.
“They played well especially in the first half, defending well. They were good on ball although they squandered hosts of scoring chances they created,” he said.
He also blamed fatigue on his players, saying; “We had a lot of travelling in the past few days.”
The team camped in Nairobi, Kenya before traveling to Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) and back to Dar es Salaam for their Sunday’s game.
On his side Stars skipper Mbwana Samatta also expressed his sadness for failure to qualify into the finals of the marquee African competition.
“We feel bad and deeply hurt for our failure to qualify for the Afcon finals. Our target was to make it for second consecutive time, unfortunately we failed. We apologise for that but we have another chance to fight for it next time,” Samatta said.
Taifa Stars have managed to feature in the Afcon finals twice with the first time being in 1980 in Nigeria and the second appearance was in 2019 edition, which was staged in Egypt.
The end of AFCON qualifiers campaigns mean the beginning of the group phase of 2022 World Cup qualifying starting on May 31, 2021.