Taifa Stars start on high note

MOROCCO: THE National Football Team ‘Taifa Stars’ have begun their FIFA World Cup Africa qualifiers in Group E match on a high note, with a 1-0 win against Niger at the Grand Stadium of Marrakech in Morocco.

The only goal from Charles M’Mombwa in the 56th minute of Saturday’s match was enough for Tanzania to gain three points and snatch second place in the group, tied with Zambia who lead the log after a 4-2 win over Congo.

In a goal-banking kick, a Niger defender deflected M’Mombwa’s attack to bank Tanzania a goal, with an assist from his skipper Mbwana Samatta. Unfortunately, the deflection caused the Niger defender to make his goalkeeper Mahamadou Djibo lose sight of the ball after flying in the opposite direction.

A well-coordinated Taifa Stars could have banked more goals through Samatta in the 36th minute who fired a free-kick but ended up hitting the woodwork. In the 71st minute,  Samatta  completed Kibu Denis’ set through but the Niger goalkeeper Djibo stood firm to save.

Other than Tanzania’s attempts, Niger also made attempts. In the 28th minute, they made a dangerous attempt through Kairou Amoustapha, whose strike was well saved by Tanzanian goalkeeper, Aishi Manula.

They made another late-minute attempt in the second half, but Tanzanian defender Novatus Dismas cleared the attempt by a narrow margin.

In another development, the Taifa Stars players urged Tanzanian fans to show up in large number in their second World Cup qualifier match against Morocco on Tuesday. Taifa Stars players revealed that they are well prepared physically and mentally to face Morocco.

Speaking with ‘Sunday News’, Simon Msuva noted they know how great their opponents are, but despite all they eye to win every match to qualify for the world cup finals.

“I have spoken to some of the Moroccans, they said they are looking forward to facing us. They know it will be a tough match. We are well prepared, so we will make sure all Tanzanians are happy as they believe in us,” he explained.

On his part midfielder Himid Mao said the only thing they are looking forward to is fans’ support as they believe fans are the 13th players on the pitch.

“We want support from all Tanzanians, we want them to have faith in us, we want them to cheer us up because we are in this together as a nation,” he said.

The Tanzanian envoys will return to Dar es Salaam via a free chartered flight offered by President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Before yesterday’s kick-off the National Team Head Coach, Adel Amrouche said they would do their best to make sure they make Tanzanians happy, although he admitted it was difficult to play two matches in a short period.

He stressed that such a thing is always challenging, especially for players, but he will ensure his charges do well.

“It is not easy for coaches and players to focus on one game and then the other by a margin of a few days. Just after Niger, we will have another game which is Morocco,” he said.

Also, the Permanent Secretary of Culture, Arts and Sports, Gerson Msigwa, once commented that direct flights avert players of travel fatigue.

“Compared to the normal route, the direct flight takes about five hours, so that players will be saved from travel fatigue,” he explained.

Furthermore, the Morocco national team have already arrived in Tanzania and they are looking forward to facing Taifa Stars on Tuesday next week.

The referees ahead of the Morocco and Tanzania match will arrive today as they come from South Africa, Lesotho and Chad.

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