Stars Afcon preps in top gear

TANZANIA: THE government said witnessing national team reaching the finals of the continental main sporting competitions is a prestige for the country.

This was remarked recently by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Arts and Sports, Hamis Mwinjuma, who is with the national team- Taifa Stars in Cairo, Egypt, as it drills for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.

Yesterday night, Taifa Stars played against Egypt in a friendly match at Cairo International Stadium as both teams gear up prior to their AFCON engagements. The opening match of the Total Energies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 will be played in Abidjan on 13 January 2023.

“The first time we qualified for AFCON finals was in 1980 and after 39 years, we earned another qualification in 2019 and after just four years, we have done the same in 2023.

“And because we have AFCON next year, we are also going to fight hard to qualify so that in 2027 we will automatically qualify for the hosting ticket.

“We want our qualifications to continue until in 2029 so that under the ten years of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s leadership, we should make it to AFCON finals at least four times,” Mwinjuma said.

He added that the focus now is to help Taifa Stars stamp a new record in AFCON by doing well rather than farewelling the contest in group stage like done in the previous three editions.

The minister further said: “Under the presidency of Samia Suluhu Hassan, a lot of achievements in football sector have been recorded and now, we are here courtesy of our team Taifa Stars which has qualified for the AFCON finals.

“Due to proper investment in sports that the current administration is doing, we are now seeing progress being made and I am sure that throughout her (President Samia) leadership, major achievements in sports will be sealed.”

The minister, being part of the government’s contingent accompanying the senior team for the AFCON contest made the remarks in Egypt where the team has pitched a brief camp.

However, the full 27-member squad tasked for the 2023 AFCON mission has the following players: Goalkeepers Aishi Manula, Beno Kakolanya and Kwesi Kawawa.

Defenders: Haji Mnoga, Mohammed Hussein, Lusajo Mwaikenda, Abdulmalik Zakaria, Abdi Banda, Dickson Job, Ibrahim Bacca, Bakari Mwamnyeto, Novatus Dismas and Miamo Danilo.

Midfielders: Feisal Salum, Himid Mao, Mzamiru Yassin, Sospeter Bajana, Ben Starkie, Tarryn Allarakhia, Mudathir Yahya and Morice Abraham.

Strikers: Mbwana Samatta, Simon Msuva, Mohammed Omar, Charles M’mombwa, Kibu Denis and Cyprian Kachwele.

Placed in group F, Taifa Stars will launch their AFCON campaign by facing Morocco on January 17 at Stade de San Pedro before hosting Zambia at the same venue on January 21st.

Their last group stage fixture will be against DR Congo on January 24th at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.

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