Serengeti Boys intensify preparations for U-17 AFCON qualifiers

22Sep 2022
Michael Mwebe
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Serengeti Boys intensify preparations for U-17 AFCON qualifiers

​​​​​​​TANZANIA’s national U-17 soccer side, Serengeti Boys, has stepped up preparations ahead of 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers for the CECAFA Zone.

Players making Tanzania's national U-17 football squad, Serengeti Boys, engage in drills at Black Rhino Stadium in Karatu, Arusha last week ahead of this year's U-17 AFCON qualifiers for CECAFA Zone slated for September 20-October 19 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TANZANIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION

The zonal qualifiers will take place between September 20-October 19, 2022 at the Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

After two weeks of residential training at JMK Youth Park in Dar es Salaam, the team moved to the Black Rhinos Academy in Karatu, Arusha to continue with preparations under head coach Kim Poulsen.

Speaking after Wednesday’s morning training session, Poulsen was content with the performance of the players in the training sessions thus far and how the squad is taking shape.

The Danish coach revealed: “We have just finished the morning session, the first out of two sessions today."

The gaffer said: "As always the pitch is very nice here, the weather is also good for training. The boys are taking to training very well, they are committed to the work.”

“I can see from day to day, not only the individuals are growing but also the shape and structure of the team is growing. The final part of our preparation here in Karatu will be two international friendly matches against South Sudan.”

“We are looking forward to playing these matches because it is very important for us to play international friendly matches before the tournament in Addis Ababa. Friendly matches give us answers to the questions we have, that’s where we can see where the players are at the moment.”

“Preparation is going well and we are looking forward to the two friendly matches with South Sudan at the end of the week.”

Serengeti Boys who finished second in the last edition held in Rwanda have been drawn in Group A alongside Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan.

They will open their campaign against hosts Ethiopia on September 30 before taking on Eritrea three days later.

South Sudan will be their third Group stage opponents on October 6 before the final battle with Somalia.

Group B of the tournament has reigning champion Uganda together with Rwanda, Djibouti, Sudan and Burundi who missed the last edition.

The best two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-final stage, the tournament finalists will earn automatic qualification to the 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations to be played in Algeria.

Tanzania will aim to qualify for the continental finals for the fourth consecutive time, having done so in 2017 in Gabon, in 2019 as hosts in Dar es Salaam and in 2021 showpiece that was expected to take place in Morocco which unfortunately were cancelled at the last minute due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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