The country's senior national football team, Taifa Stars, returned to Africa’s biggest soccer tournaments after they had sealed qualification for the 2019 edition with a 3-0 win over Uganda before hundreds of Tanzanian soccer fans at Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Another milestone in soccer that the country can count on is being able to qualify for African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals, set for next year.
All these successes clearly show that the country’s soccer in now heading to the right direction after many years of stagnation.
However, without support from various stakeholders, this would not have been possible.
Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL), for instance, has contributed a lot to success that the Taifa Stars are proud of today.
In May 2017, the company entered into a three-year agreement with Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), valued at 2.1 bn/-, that saw the brewers' flagship beer brand become the official sponsors of the national team.
Various soccer stakeholders have commended the step taken by SBL to support the senior national team saying although the team was not able to make it to the finals in the 2019 AFCON, the side's presence in the showpiece was an aye opener.
“Being in the AFCON finals is an eye-opener for us, a big experience and a big achievement. You can fall in football, but if you believe in it and you stick to it, you can bounce back again,'' Salvatory Singano, who is radio presenter and soccer analyst, said.
''We thank the sponsors for supporting our team because without their support we would hardly have reached where we are today,” he noted.
The TFF president, Wallace Karia, said the Serengeti Premium Lager sponsorship has revitalized the team’s performance, making it register enviable feats.
The feats, according to him, include qualifying for the prestigious AFCON finals last year after a 39-year hiatus.
Karia expressed his heartfelt gratitude to SBL, explaining that the beer makers’ backing for the last three years had been a breath of fresh air that had relieved the federation of the previous financial burden.
He noted the financial crisis had dogged the federation, derailing its efforts to reclaim the senior national team’s international soccer glory.
Karia said; “Before the SBL sponsorship we had serious financial constraints that stalled most of our strategic plans. But with the sponsorship, our team and management had less stress and as a result the players and the technical bench were able to concentrate on their assignments.
''The backing has enabled us to achieve exemplary performance in most of our fixtures”.
He added: “It was during this period that our senior national team managed to qualify for AFCON finals after two decades of being in the continental soccer ‘wilderness’-as well as qualifying for CHAN finals.”
Ally Mayay, alias ‘Tembele’, a former Taifa Stars midfielder and current soccer analyst, said the Serengeti Premium Lager sponsorship towards Taifa Stars is huge and commendable.
May pointed out that it had revolutionized the country’s soccer at both national and international levels.
“The deal involves quite a lot of money and we have seen its immediate impact on our soccer as demonstrated by the senior national team’s improved FIFA rankings,'' he disclosed.
''We need to appreciate this support by SBL,” Mayai, who also captained Taifa Stars between 1996 and 2004, disclosed.
Another former Taifa Stars player, Mohammed Hussein, alias ‘Mmachinga’, commended SBL’s efforts saying the sponsorship enabled the senior national team register unprecedented successes in recent years.
He disclosed; “It is within this period that we have seen our senior national team take part in big tournaments like the AFCON finals.''
''Similarly, it is during this sponsorship that we have witnessed Taifa Stars qualify for CHAN finals and reach the World Cup Qualifiers' group stage,'' Hussein enthused.
''I hope these streams of successes will inspire SBL to continue supporting the team.”