Ndayiragije bemoans lack of enough time for AFCON Qualifiers’ preps 

19Nov 2020
Joseph Mchekadona
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Ndayiragije bemoans lack of enough time for AFCON Qualifiers’ preps 

​​​​​​​TANZANIA’s senior national football team ‘Taifa Stars’ head coach, Etienne Ndayiragije, has said lack of enough time to prepare for the back-to-back games against Tunisia in Group J of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers has slimmed his team’s chances of-

Taifa Stars’ head coach, Etienne Ndayiragije.

-qualifying for the continental showpiece, which will take place in Cameroon in 2022.

Taifa Stars played a 1-1 draw against Tunisia in the return leg of the qualifiers which took place at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

The results have slimmed Tanzania’s chance of qualifying for AFCON finals twice in a row.

Taifa Stars suffered 1-0 loss to Tunisia in the first leg, which took place in Tunis on November 13.

Ndayiragije said his team did not have enough time to prepare for the back-to-back games against the North African giants.

In a monitored interview, the coach said Taifa Stars needed a win to keep alive their dreams of qualifying for the continental football fiesta to take place in Cameroon.

“We did not have enough time to prepare for the two games, we trained here at home for a day and then in Turkey for three days,’’ he disclosed.

‘’In all the training I did not have a full squad as some players were on assignments with their respective clubs,” he noted.

Taifa Stars still have mathematical chances of making it to the 2022 Cameroon AFCON finals following Equatorial Guinea’s back-to-back victories over Libya.

Tunisia top Group J with 10 point, followed by Equatorial Guinea with six points while Taifa Stars are placed third with four points, Libya anchor the group with three points.

Ndayiragije noted for the country to realize its dreams of qualifying for the 2022 Cameroon AFCON finals, Taifa Stars must win their remaining two games against Equatorial Guinea and Libya.

The Tanzania team will face Equatorial Guinea in Malabo in March next year and the former will later host Libya in Dar es Salaam.

Taifa Stars should as well pray that Equatorial Guinea lose to Tunisia in Tunis.

Ndayiragije said Taifa Stars still have chances of qualifying to the 2022 Cameroon AFCON finals, saying what is needed is to prepare well for the two games.

“If we prepare well, we can make it, we have two games, one at home and the other away, if we win them all we can qualify for the 2022 Cameroon AFCON finals,’’ the coach disclosed.

The gaffer also defended the players he featured during the Tuesday game especially forward, Adam Adam, who was not at his best.

He said he handed Adam the chance so that he can gain experience of playing international games.

During the Tuesday game, the North African giants settled down quickly and controlled the affairs for the better part of the first 20 minutes.

It was no wonder they scored the opener on the 11minute through Saif Eddine Khaoul who connected a pass from Yossef Msakni.

In the build up to Tunisia goal, Msakni, who was at his best during the game, hit the post early on and then carved Taifa Stars open with a fine pass to set up Khaoui to open the scoring.

By half time, Taifa Stars were down by 1-0 and Ndayiragije made some changes in which he brought in midfielder Feisal Salum for Himid Mao.

The coming in of Salum injected fresh zeal into the game as Taifa Stars’ attacking machinery and creativity on the midfield improved.

This paid off on the 47th minute of the game as Salum equalized from an assist by forward, John Bocco.

Winger Ditram Nchimbi picked Bocco with a cross, the forward chested the ball to Salum, who beat Tunisia’s goalkeeper with a fierce shot.

Taifa Stars pressed for another goal and they went close on the 53rd minute of the game, as Nchimbi’s header went wide.

Tunisia regained control of the game for the better part of the second half, with the team’s key performers, Youssef Msakni, Wahbi Khazri and Ali Maaloul, making life difficult for Taifa Stars’ keeper, Aishi Manula, and defenders, Erasto Nyoni, Bakari Mwamnyeto and Shomari Kapombe.

However, in the last minute of the game, Taifa Stars missed the scoring opportunity through Nchimbi’s flicked header which came off Tunisia’s post and went outside.