There is something a bit unsettling about how far technique is on our side and how far it isn’t, and whether those initially thought of as natural leaders in the group are in control of the situation or have lost it.
That means DRC and Benin – as their actual renown in African football casts a long shadow compared to us despite success moments.
This is the case when one for instance compares the various national teams from the number of their players engaged not just in foreign clubs but beyond the African circuit, or the Middle East, where Tanzania may have the last number of such players, even compared to Madagascar.
If that was the key measure of what team is better, it would follow that Tanzania would be at the bottom, but then things did not go that way, as we were able to hold DRC and tip the scales against Benin, in an away match.
The issue is whether this trend has a chance to hold for the teams as they are, or it may take a different thrust.
In the first place, one may have to explain the trajectory of home and away matches so far, and see what appears to be underlined, for instance, supposed weakness was seen in first leg matches and the return match, and whether what happened later can be projected for the final two matches, or at least where Tanzania stands concerning those trends.
The latest result against Benin, winning 1-0 in an away match having lost 1-0 at home is an illustrative datum or hidden potential and drawbacks depending on the mental situation a team would have experienced earlier. A win is a psychological boost and a next match trap.
That situation is observable in most high-level encounters or lower league types, but there may be variation in a different league or competition types, in the sense that the more professional the competition involved the less vitiating it is likely to be characterized in terms of results.
At the same time, there is a psychological and tactical situation that is true of a particular side, in the sense of the link between the technical bench and the players in particular, but the club atmosphere similarly matters.
When players turn out for the national side, there is a different atmosphere of competition from the club level, as, on the one hand, they need to win as a side, which is a primary point of unity in what each of them is doing.
But there is also an individual dimension of specific parameters, some of them being common to all and others being particular to an individual.
For instance, national team selection provides a chance to be seen and perhaps appreciated, as one is surrounded by good players, show his abilities more intently.
One collective matrix which matters is the coaching, how far it blends with what the players can do, and the sort of appreciation they obtain, both from the coach and from outside.
This aspect is often the undoing of many teams in competitions, whether at the club or national level, for instance, the way Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in and the side won eight straight matches, and when he declared that the club would heavily recruit the next summer, the side went into a string of losses.
Pundits believe Taifa Stars have the best coaching moments and inspiration, with Kim Poulsen.
Several radio pundits repeatedly affirm that the coach has been the man of the match in Stars’ performances and when the side lost 1-0 to Benin, the coach said the side was unlucky.
Deeper probing indicated that it was awash with self-confidence and that is bad for results the next time the side takes to the pitch, and conversely, a poor match like the one with Benin at home could fire the players to do better in their away encounter, do a table reversal as with Simba SC with Kaizer Chiefs or even Al Ahly.
This is precisely what happened in Benin, so the side reversed the loss to an equally narrow win, stunning Benin.
So Taifa Stars have been able to remain on top of the group by a thin margin of goals over Benin, meanwhile as DRC appeared to be the more powerful side technically, in terms of player composition and experience but this has not been demonstrated so far.
It drew against Tanzania at home and lost 1-0 to Madagascar in Antananarivo, implying that the side has or is failing to collect its energies in this competition.
Yet this is another trap for Taifa Stars as the loss for DRC in an away match can help to uplift its fighting mood, and DRC might adopt a higher fighting spirit to reverse the tables.
Madagascar is in a similar position like Tanzania, by restoring confidence in the DRC match, and could lower their guard.