Last chance for Taifa Stars   

22Mar 2019
The Guardian
Last chance for Taifa Stars   

TANZANIA’s senior national soccer team, Taifa Stars, will lock horns with Uganda in a crucial 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Stadium on Sunday evening. 

Taifa Stars’ players attend training at the Estádio Nacional de Cabo Verde in Praia to shape up for the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers game against Cape Verde that took place at the venue last year.

Taifa Stars will need to be as tough as an elephant’s hide in this do or die encounter.

Ahead of this important encounter, we recommend five things the team must do to beat the already qualified Uganda Cranes team.

Amunike should get his formation right

Coach Emmanuel Amunike is a believer in various variations of 3-5-2 formation. 

The results have been mixed. The formation was quite okay against Uganda in the first leg but turned out to be a disaster against Cape Verde and Lesotho.

He wanted to maximise both the defensive and offensive power but it seemed the fullbacks were not much effective. Both fullbacks did not overlap as much as possible and there was collusion of positions among the three central defenders and the fullbacks.

Maybe the coach should just switch to a flat 4-4-2 against Uganda to avoid confusion in the defence.Players must show urgency

One of the key flaws noted in the team’s loss to Cape Verde and Lesotho was their lack of urgency. The team had a lacklustre first half and only showed urgency when they were chasing the game.

In both losses and even the away draw against Uganda, they kept passing the ball backwards and rarely venture forward until dire circumstances forced them to do so.

On Sunday, they will need to show a lot of grit and determination to win the game from the first minute. There is no room for complacency.

Play without fear

Uganda sealed their place at the tournament in Cameroon next year, with a 1-0 win against Cape Verde in November. They may have qualified but they have not lost their sense of pride. Moreover, they have nothing to lose and so are likely to be composed.

The danger for Tanzania is to play with the inherent fear of losing such a crucial tie. It will not be an easy task in front of an unexpected big crowd and I am sure that come the day some players can succumb to a bout of nervousness.

The ability to focus on the match will be key to Taifa Stars’ chances of success. If our players are focussed,

disciplined and remember what is asked of them and do the best they can, we will get the result we are looking for.It will be a footballing battle of the bravest and the proudest. Our players must play without any fear in their hearts.Defend set pieces better

Poor defending in set piece situation was our main undoing against Cape Verde and Lesotho. We conceded from corners. Aishi Manula was not well covered and he was also at fault for failing to command his defence and making strong clearance.

This time, set pieces should be a concern. The entire team must find a way of stopping Uganda Cranes forward from wreaking havoc from such situations.

Amunike should avoid controversial calls

Quite a number of the players failed to make much impact against Lesotho with obvious good options on the bench. The likes of Mudathir Yahya and Ally Mtoni were poor all through.

To get a positive result against Uganda, Amunike must not hesitate to drop any of them and bring in good replacements. 

He is expected to retain the majority of the players who did duty against Lesotho, but most importantly, packing the midfield could go a long way in ensuring that Taifa Stars gets that needed victory.

A three-man central midfield, which could consist of Erasto Nyoni, Himid Mao and Mudathir Yahya will no doubt offer the Stars defence some sort of protection, while allowing their forwards to have freedom going forward.