Spirited Stars face Morocco test

TANZANIA: NATIONAL Team ‘Taifa Stars’ Head Coach Adel Amrouche said facing Morocco today is a good experience for his players.

They meet in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) match at Stade Laurent Pokou in Ivory Coast.

The duo interface in the opening Group F fixture of the competition for the sides, with each eager to pocket the first maximum points and gain confidence ahead of their next matches.

“You know, we are here and happy to play against big nations, it is a good experience for our players and we will enjoy our time here,” Amrouche said at a pre-match briefing yesterday.

He added: “We are going to do our best to give a good picture of East African football… we plan to build the team for the future and this is the reason, Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) brought me to Tanzania.

“We have a plan for the future and the federation has a plan for the future, we are working for that. In 2027, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda will host AFCON and that is part of the federation to build a team for the future.”

Skipper Mbwana Samatta also reiterated that they are ready for the match and that each player in the team is looking forward to it.

“Preparations have been good, we had a friendly match against Egypt and since then we have been training hard for this opening match against Morocco, even coaches have done their part hence we are ready,” Samatta said.

The late kick-off match is pegged at 8:00 pm as millions of Tanzanians await to see how their flag bearers will perform against one of the most decorated teams in the continent.

It is an opportunity for Taifa Stars coach Adel Amrouche to make a record of becoming the first trainer to negotiate the team to its first win at the contest.

The first coach to take Stars to the AFCON finals was Slawomir Wolk of Poland in 1980 before Nigerian trainer Emmanuel Amunike in 2019; both missed the chance to stamp a group stage win.

Morocco are attempting to win their second AFCON title as they clinched it once in 1976 whose finals were held in Ethiopia.

On his part, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Sports Damas Ndumbaro who visited the team’s camp in Ivory Coast ahead of their three group stage games said morale among players is high.

“I had an opportunity to greet each player in the squad as well as technical bench members…what I have seen are that the team is strong and morale is high.

“This gives me confidence that our team is ready to battle in this competition for the third time and it is encouraging, the team’s doctor and fitness coach have said that 99 per cent of players are fit for the three fixtures,” Ndumbaro said.

Similarly, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) President Wallace Karia said he is impressed with the status of the team.

“We are here to show solidarity to our team in their upcoming fixtures and the head of the delegation who is also Zanzibar Football Federation (ZFF) president Suleiman Jabir has told us that everything is well,” he said.

Taifa Stars made their debut in the AFCON finals back in 1980 and they were placed in group A alongside then-champions Nigeria, Egypt and Ivory Coast.

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