Taifa Stars have put themselves into a knife edge after pulling a 1-1 draw in the first leg match of the 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier against Mozambique played before their home fans in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Stars kicked off the match in an explosive pattern and made several attacks early on but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock after 22 minutes through striker Clesio Bauque.
The goal was cored against the run of play as home fans were kept spellbound while Stars strikers besieged the visitor’s goal. Bauque dissected Stars defensive duo of Juma Nyoso and centre back Aggrey Morris before shooting past sprawling goalkeeper Juma Kaseja to freeze the home fans at the stands.
Stars played an improved pattern of soccer as contrasted to their last week’s build up friendly against the Democratic Republic of Congo that ended in a barren draw.
There was a good coordination between the defence, midfield and upfront as wing left Vincent Barnabanas gave the Mozambican defensive line-up a hectic moment.
The onslaughts eventually paid off as midfielder Mwinyi Kazimoto who played a highly composed football slotted home the equalizer three minutes to the half time mark amid jubilation from the half filled stands.
Stars striker John Bocco was a constant menace to the Mozambican defense as he came close to score several times but profligacy prevailed throughout.
The second half was full of thrills as Stars tried hard to find the match winner that was eventually not to be.
Several times goalkeeper Kaseja was forced to work above the call of duty to deny Mozambican strikers who often beat Stars defenders.
Stars coach Jan Poulsen introduced fast moving winger Mrisho Ngasa who replaced Nizar Khalfan but would not beat the water-tight Mozambican defence marshaled by Francisco Massinga.
The result has placed Stars at cross roads with the only option to win the return leg to be played in Maputo in mid June this year.
Despite squandering home ground advantage, Stars line-up that played yesterday showed an improvement as they displayed attacking football while marshaling their defence.
Shadrack Nsajigwa, Juma Nyoso and Stephano Mwasika were the lynchpin of the Stars defence that contained the otherwise sharp shooting Mozambican strikers.
Stars have never won a competitive Nations Cup match in Mozambique as the teams have met five times.
Juma Kaseja, Shadrack Nsajigwa, Stephen Mwasika, Juma Nyoso, Aggrey Morris, Shabani Nditi, Nizar Khalfan/ Mrisho Ngasa, Mwinyi Kazimoto, John Bocco, Abdi Kassim/Salum Aboubakar and Vincent Barnabas/Hussein Javu.
Mwadini Ally, Shomari Kapombe, Waziri Salum, and Nsa Job .
Joao Rafael, Francisco Massinga, Clesio Bauque, Edson Sitoe, Almiro Lobo, Elias Pelembe, Zainadine Chavango/Joao Mazive, Jeremias Sitoe, Eduardo Jumisse/Luis Vaz, Joao Aguiar and Francisco Muchanga.