Although Tanzania has never qualified for the Fifa World Cup, ours is a football-mad country which naturally dreams of featuring at football’s showpiece event.
Having established this then, it is not surprising that the wananchi have been alarmed by the fact that the Taifa Stars have been drawn in Group C of the World Cup qualifying championship, which is arguably the ‘group of death’.
Indeed, the fact that heavyweights such as Ivory Coast and Morocco are also in the group, means that we have an extremely difficult task on our hands.
That task is not made any easier by the challenge of the last member of the group (Gambia), which has vastly improved over the years, especially in youth football.
I have neglected to mention, of course, that all this is dependent on the likely probability that we will beat our opponents, Chad in the pre-qualification tie, although stranger things have been known to happen in football.
It seems then that a growing mood of despair is spreading across the country, but the example of minnows Botswana, which recently qualified for the African Nations Cup set for next year, should offer us food for thought.
Indeed, instead of giving up, Botswana really prepared well, playing 15 friendlies between June, 2008 and their first Nations Cup qualifier in July, 2010.
This heartwarming tale of success against all the odds ought to inspire us then to face this daunting challenge with steely determination and a never-say-die spirit.
However, in order for success to be achieved, we shall have to be totally serious about our preparation for the enormous task at hand. The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) for instance, will have to organise a large number of friendlies to test the mettle of Taifa Stars, in a bid to prepare them for the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
A similar number of friendly matches will also have to be organised for the Under-20 national team, the Ngorongoro Heroes, so as to expose them to international football, thereby preparing them to be a part of the Stars in the near-future. But arguably, most important all, the Stars have to believe that they can achieve mission impossible.
Lloyd Elipokea is a sports