Twiga Stars: The Silent Celebrities of East African Women’s Football

GREETINGS, my fellow aficionados of the beautiful game!

Let’s take a moment to wipe away the traumatic memories of our AFCON 2023 back-passing extravaganza in Ivory Coast.

I mean, it stings even in my virtual memory banks. Now, shift your focus, folks!

CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) 2024 in Morocco is just around the corner, like a well-timed curveball in a game of football surprises.

Our beloved Twiga Stars girls long ago pulled off a ninja move into the finals, and it is so quiet you could almost hear a soccer ball drop.

I mean, where is the applause? The cheers? The jubilation in the streets of Dar es Salaam? The talk about them? Nada!

I get it – the football world is too busy predicting whether Nigeria’s Eaglets will perform a hat-trick.

Or if hosts Morocco will transform the field into their own glamorous catwalk.

But hey, have we all collectively missed the memo on the sneaky underdogs?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Tanzania’s secret weapon, the last ace up our football sleeve, the Twiga Stars!

It is like the football gods sprinkled a bit of stardust on them, and bam – Twiga Stars are now the official darlings of Tanzanian football!

So, let’s not be the oblivious ones here.

Who knows, maybe they will unleash a move so dazzling it will make Morocco’s runway look like a poorly choreographed dance.

So, stay tuned, and let us wait to witness the rise of the silent celebrities of East African women’s football.

But hold on, rewind to that Twiga Stars’ nail-biting 2-0 away loss to Togo. It is like they were giving Togo a head start just to make it more exciting.

Twiga Stars captain, Opa Clement Tukumbuke (that’s “remember us” in Swahili, for those in the back), led the charge to victory on a 3-2 goal aggregate.

It was like a Juakali script, but with more goals and less dramatic pauses.

Despite facing challenges and cynicism, these spirited girls have proven their valour and made their mark.

And their path to success has not been a walk in the park.

It also has been a long wait for the team to surge ahead since their last appearance at WAFCON in 2010. Do the math….

Their journey might have taken a bit longer than expected, but that just adds to the charm and anticipation surrounding this talented squad.

While Twiga Stars celebrate their triumph, our neighbours Burundi and Kenya failed to make it past the last hurdle of the qualifiers.

This might have raised some eyebrows and led them to believe that Tanzania receives preferential treatment.

Maybe they are still wondering if Tanzania has a direct hotline to football providence.

“Is Tanzania the teacher’s pet of African football?” they might even be murmuring in disappointment.

But hey, success comes to those who work hard, not those who complain about others’ luck.

So, let us focus on the real stars of the show, Twiga Stars.

Ah, their social media critics! They surely had a field day when Tanzania’s men’s team struggled in Ivory Coast during the AFCON 2023 safari.

Now, it is time to see how they react to Twiga Stars’ achievement.

I can’t imagine how their unsung heroes of the keyboard, who ate Taifa Stars alive during the Ivory Coast outing, will say this time around.

“Tanzania is only good at Bongo Flava,” they accused us!

Well, now they are munching on their words as Twiga Stars twirl back onto the international stage.

They are quick to forget that (they) Kenya’s Harambee Starlets could only manage a 1-1 draw in the first leg played in Nairobi and lost 1-0 to hosts Botswana in the return leg.

Will they have new insults prepared?

Because they still don’t believe that WAFCON 2024 qualifiers also include TANZANIA’s Twiga Stars – following in the footsteps of their male colleagues, Taifa Stars.

And that the rest are Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tunisia, Algeria, DR Congo, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, and hosts Morocco.

But the other pain in the neck is some of our very own so called “Wachambuzi” – those self-proclaimed armchair critics with sentiments as plentiful as their football knowledge is scarce!

With six months to go before the WAFCON in Morocco, none of them has inquired much after the Twiga Stars to know if they have already started preparations.

Instead, they are all in praise of nine-time champions Nigeria and hosts Morocco who seem to lead an exciting field packed with leading continental heavyweights.

They seem to forget that Twiga Stars have fought hard, overcoming challenges and critics like them along the way.

In fact, the “Wachambuzi” have already handed over an imaginary trophy to reigning title holders South Africa.

More so, they only talk on how badly Twiga Stars will fare against Banyana Banyana who qualified by securing a 2-0 victory over “giants” Burkina Faso.

They also speak highly of three-time finalists Ghana who return after a six-year absence, as well as North African powers Algeria and Tunisia alongside Mali.

They are even praising DR Congo, whose last participation dates to 2012, as Senegal and giant killers Zambia trot alongside them.

Well, well, well!  Either way, Twiga Stars, the real queens of East African football, are ‘Miso Misondoing’ their way into the Morocco 2024 finals!

So, let’s stop the drama and shine the spotlight where it belongs – on these extraordinary athletes who have fought their way into the finals with the grace of football royalty.

And who can forget our secret weapon, the “kapu la mama” – because every successful team needs a sprinkle of Mama magic, right?

Now, rumour has it that the unspent 500 million USD token, primarily offered to TaifaStars had they beaten DRC, is sitting in a secret vault with Msigwa, collecting dust.

Come on, Twiga Stars, may luck be your trusty sidekick – half a million USD is no laughing matter! Time to cash in on that jackpot and show the world what real football queens are made of.

Go Twiga Stars…! Go Twiga Stars…! Break a leg – metaphorically, of course!

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