Govt optimistic of good preps for 2019 AFCON U-17 tourney   

11Apr 2019
Joseph Mchekadona
The Guardian
Govt optimistic of good preps for 2019 AFCON U-17 tourney   

THE government has expressed its optimism on the final preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) U-17 finals, slated to kick off in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe.

Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe, who was accompanied by his Permanent Secretary Susan Mlawi, issued the statement in the city yesterday after inspecting stadiums that will be used to host the tournament.

The tournament will be hosted at the National Stadium and Azam Complex while Uhuru Stadium, Jakaya Kikwete Youth Park and Gymkhana Club grounds will be used for the teams’ training.

Mwakyembe said he is happy with the final preparations of the finals, noting he expects the national U-17 football team, Serengeti Boys, to carry the national flag well at the event.

The tournament’s competitors that will make it to the semi-finals will book a place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals to be held in Brazil later this year.

“I’m happy with the final preparations of the venues, the government has invested a lot of money to renovate the venues, I am hopeful the team will do well and bring pride to soccer loving Tanzanians,” he said.

Mlawi explained that the government has invested 1.3 billion for renovation of the National Stadium and Uhuru Stadium while one billion will be used for accommodation and other logistics.

Secretary of the AFCON U-17 organizing committee, Leslie Liunda, is reported to have said that all is set for the tournament, which will be held for two weeks.

Serengeti Boys, who were in Rwanda for an invitational competition hosted by the country’s football governing body, FERWAFA, returned home on Tuesday.

The team won the event that also saw Cameroon and hosts, Rwanda, take part in.

Serengeti Boys’ head coach, Oscar Mirambo, said he is happy with the preparations as it has helped him and the technical committee polish the team ahead of the AFCON tournament.

Eight teams will compete at the finals, with FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, having been reported to be among top dignitaries who will attend the competition’s opening ceremony.

Serengeti Boys are in Group A alongside Nigeria, Uganda and Angola while Group B has Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon and Guinea.

All teams apart from Nigeria and Guinea have not arrived as there are reports that they will arrive in the country on Saturday.

This is the first time that Tanzania is hosting a high profile CAF championship and benefits of hosting the championship, would cut across such sectors like the refurbishing of venues for training and actual matches.

Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) can also use the showpiece to court sponsors and others, who would be partners, to expose their products and services to far reaching areas as the event will be beamed by top continental TV stations.

Hosting the tournament increases chances for Serengeti Boys to win the championship, as well as having chance to be spotted by top scouts.