‘Sorry for Stars loss, we ‘re on course’

DAR ES SALAAM: THE National Senior Football Team –‘Taifa Stars’ Head Coach, Adel Amrouche has apologised for the 2-0 defeat from Morocco in their second fixture of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Africa qualifiers at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday night.

It was the first setback for the country’s envoys in the unfolding qualifiers as they remain with three points reaped after outclassing Niger in the Group E opener held at Stade de Marrakech in Morocco.

The Atlas Lions found the back of the net via a long-range strike by midfielder Hakim Ziyech in the 28th minute, before Lusajo Mwaikenda unintentionally in the 53rd minute contributed to Morocco’s victory by scoring an own goal that extended their lead.

At the post-match briefing, Coach Amrouche said: “I am sorry for the loss, you know me, I hate to lose but we need to accept this is football, when you lose against a team like Morocco, there is no shame in saying I lost against a big team than us.

“I do not know who said never change a winning team, but for me I have the reality, some players cannot play two games like that because, against Niger, it was very tough. Aishi Manula is injured, the second goalkeeper is injured, the other two keepers did not play, as such and I had to decide who to be in goal.

“I am not crazy not to feature Simon Msuva and Mbwana Samatta in the starting line-up, because I know they cannot compete; I had to feature new players because soon, we are going to play the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.

“If I do not see the new goalkeeper (Kwesi Kawawa), if I do not see Himid Mao in the midfield, if I do not give time for Morice Abraham to play, when are they going to play?”

Again, Amrouche pointed out that tactically they did not lose the match, but they lost it through errors, mistakes, and lack of concentration, adding that his team made a strong wall for their opponents, which was not easy for Morocco to penetrate.

“My players did all their best to give something, but the reality is that when you are tired, you are tired…in the end, you cannot finish the game, that is the reality.

“I believe in my team, in my players, they know how to fight…Tanzania is not a weak team, they are a strong team and they showed it against Algeria and Niger and they are going to continue showing it in the future,” Amrouche remarked.

On his part, Morocco trainer, Walid Regragui conceded that they faced a tough team that was not easy to beat and he applauded his charges for the good fight.

“After missing the penalty, we got out of the game, but later we came back and scored the opener. The most important thing is that we won and claimed the first maximum points of the qualifiers.

“African football has changed a lot nowadays; it is not easy to win more than two or three goals away from home, as such we are satisfied with the results,” he said.

However, as it stands in Group E, Tanzania, Morocco, Zambia, and Niger all have 3 points, while Congo Brazzaville is winless and point-less and have one game in hand similar to Morocco.

According to the fixture, after the Stars’ game, Morocco will face Zambia between June 3 and 11, 2024. The squad will then lock horns with Congo during the same period.

The 2026 World Cup will take place in Canada, the United States, and Mexico between June 11 and July 19. This edition of the World Cup will see an expanded format, featuring a total of 48 teams instead of 32, with 12 groups of four teams each. It will include 104 matches instead of the typical 64 games.

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