It’s now or never for Serengeti Boys team

19Sep 2016
The Guardian
It’s now or never for Serengeti Boys team

NO matter what happened at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Tanzania national under 17 soccer team must cross over the final hurdle in Brazzaville.

Both coach Bakari Shime and his boys should understand the gravity of responsibility they carry on their shoulders before boarding a flight to the Congolese capital.

Certainly the return leg is expected to be tense as either side would like to win and progress into the soccer platform of continent’s most prestigious berth for teenage players.

Playing on away soil should not be a hurdle for a team that has been consistent to win most of its qualifier matches in the previous rounds.

Winning the berth to play in Madagascar where the finals will be staged next year, should stand as a top priority after all the hard work done in the past.

Certainly the level of efforts taken by the Tanzania Football Federation in preparing the team is huge. The boys should understand the need to reciprocate this tremendous effort through posting a win and jump into the qualifier berth of the biennial finals.

While the duty to prepare the team is within the capacity of technical staff, the football federation should make an oversight to overlook or forget the technical aspects particularly age of the players.

It was under similar circumstances when another under age team was disqualified for age infringement to throw all the hard work overboard. It was not only shame that befell on the country, but also the disappointment and shock to miss the finals in the most heartbreaking way.

Zimbabwe side which we beat replaced our team and the consequence was highly agonizing as CAF slapped us with a three-year lengthy ban.

We believe all such technical aspects have been taken into account so as not to disappoint the nation, coach and all the players who have been working hard to realise the expected achievement.

After playing the penultimate qualifier match yesterday, what is left is just 90 minutes which will carry us to the football stage we have never attained in the past for underage players’ team.

The return match in Brazzaville must be taken seriously while keeping in mind that our opponents are not pushovers. They also need to accomplish the kind of target we are seeking by any means including victory on the field of play.

Success through underage soccer teams would definitely guarantee our all-time mission seeking to excel at international platform like the one we are struggling for.

It has been an avalanche of failures since our senior national soccer team, the Taifa Stars featured in their first ever and last African Nations Cup staged in Lagos in 1980.

Probably the CHAN championship of the 2009 in Cote d’Ivoire and African Women Championship in 2010 in South Africa are the only two other iconic continental soccer stages to be proud of.

Besides working hard on the field of play, the Serengeti Boys players should be careful on provocative attempts which would see them conceding cards and reduce their numbers during the match in Brazzaville.

Playing with great composure would add an ice into the cake to upset the hosts. All the best our ambassadors in Brazzaville, where there is will there is a way.

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