Kilimanjaro Stars, Zanzibar renew rivalry in do-or-die clash

10Dec 2019
Michael Mwebe
The Guardian
Kilimanjaro Stars, Zanzibar renew rivalry in do-or-die clash

MAINLAND Tanzania soccer team, Kilimanjaro Stars, and Zanzibar will both look to bounce back to winning ways after stumbling to rivals in their previous 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup encounters on Sunday.

Mainland Tanzania soccer side, Kilimanjaro Stars.

Zanzibar, nicknamed Zanzibar Heroes, were unlucky as they conceded a stoppage time goal to deny them three points in 1-1 draw with Sudan while Kilimanjaro Stars slipped to a 1-0 defeat to rivals Kenya.

Today it is Mainland Tanzania versus Zanzibar. There is certainly no sporting rivalry quite like the one involving these two teams in Africa.

Not only is this a big one because for Zanzibar Heroes playing against Kilimanjaro Stars is always a tasty affair.

This time it is big because it means something more than just bragging rights. If Kilimanjaro Stars lose to their compatriots, then Mainland Tanzania’s fate will be sealed, another embarrassing Group Stage exit.

If Zanzibar Heroes lose they know their fate could well be out of Kilimanjaro Stars’ hands. A win would make the Island side’s lives a whole lot easier.

Man for man, Zanzibar Heroes have a much greater depth of talent. But it is not just about talent.

There are so many other issues to factor in this hotly-anticipated Group B clash, with defiant words from both camps dominating the pre-match build-up.

The history of this fixture makes Zanzibar Heroes slight favourites, they have not lost in the last four matches against their Mainland counterparts.

A lot of fans believe this is down to Zanzibar Heroes players having ‘more pride’ than their counterparts and are ready to die a little to get victory.

Simply put, Kilimanjaro Stars have the individuals who have dominated the Vodacom Premier League, Zanzibar have the team.

Zanzibar Heroes’ stubborn togetherness and willingness to fight for one another have enabled them punch above their weight in this tournament.

The qualities also helped them reach the final in the competition’s last edition held in Kenya.

Kilimanjaro Stars’ head coach Juma Mgunda tried to deflect pressure but he knows it is his own team who enter the contest under more pressure given past results.

“What happened against Kenya is behind us. Against Zanzibar it will two sides that know each other well will battle in what is always expected to be a tough match,’’ Mgunda said about the opening match.

The other Group B game this Tuesday is an afternoon clash between Kenya and Sudan at the same venue, Lugogo Stadium, in Kampala.