Taifa Stars face Tunisia test in AFCON Qualifiers    

17Nov 2020
Joseph Mchekadona
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Taifa Stars face Tunisia test in AFCON Qualifiers    

​​​​​​​TANZANIA’s senior national football team, Taifa Stars are, this afternoon, seeking to prove a point as they face Tunisia in the second leg of Group J of 2022 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers, which will take place at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Taifa Stars winger, Farid Mussa (R), dribbles past Equatorial Guinea defenders when the teams locked horns in the Group J clash of the Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers, which took place in Dar es Salaam last year. Taifa Stars won 2-1. PHOTO: CORRESPONDENT JUMANNE JUMA

Taifa Stars lost 1-0 to Tunisia in the first leg, which took place at the latter’s backyard, Stade Olympique de Rades in Tunis on Friday.

For Taifa Stars’ dreams of qualifying for Cameroon AFCON finals to be alive, today's game is a must win for the home team.

Taifa Stars’ head coach Etienne Ndayiragije said all of his charges are ready for this afternoon encounter, describing it as a must win.

He said he is confident of seeing Taifa Stars post good results as playing at home will be an advantage to the team.

The coach said he will approach the game with seriousness as he is aware that good results in today’s game will be an advantage to his side's dreams of qualifying for AFCON finals two times in a row.

“The perfect opportunity has arrived for us, we are playing at home in front of our supporters, and the morale in the camp is very high, I’m sure of good results,” he said.

A victory over Tunisia in today’s match is important for Taifa Stars, who are placed third in Group J with three points from three games.

Tunisia are leading the rest of the pack in the group with nine points from three games, while Equatorial Guinea are placed second with six points from four matches.

Bottom-placed Libya who have also played four games have collected three points.

“In our first match we did not play well as we were not penetrating into their side, we have rectified the mistakes and I’m sure of good results,’’ the Taifa Stars coach disclosed.

‘’We are cautious, it is a very tough match and the players are aware of that. I hope they will follow instructions at the end of the day to collect the maximum points,” he said.

The Taifa Stars’ coach had, shortly after the last weekend clash, disclosed: “We are ready for the second leg game and I’m sure we will do well, my charges are ready psychologically and mentally.’’

He said playing in front of home fans is expected to give his players an upper hand over Tunisia.

“We ask our fans to cheer the team the whole 90 minutes, we want to make sure we reduce the points’ gap and also keep our chances of qualifying for the finals alive,” he said.

To beat Tunisia, Taifa Stars must be disciplined against a side with quality and experienced players like Youssef Msakni, who scored the only goal in Tunis.

Taifa Stars will on one hand, depend on the services of Aishi Manula between the posts, Erasto Nyoni, Shomari Kapombe , Mohamed Hussein, Bakari Mwanyeto, Himid Mao, John Bocco and Simon Msuva, who had a solid performance in the previous game.

On the other hand, Tunisia boast of quality and experienced players like Youssef Msakni, Wahbi Khazri, Ali Maaloul, Ferjani Sassi and Selfeddine Khaoui.

In the last weekend match, the hosts scored on the 18th minute through forward, Youssef Msakni, from a spot kick.

Msakni was fouled in the box and made the most of the spot kick, his goal extended his team’s 100 percent record in the Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifying campaign

During the Tuesday game, Taifa Stars will miss the services of skipper, Mbwana Samatta, who plays for Turkish top side Fenerbahçe, given he is still injured.

However, in the absence of Samatta, coach Ndayiragije will depend on the services of Bocco, Ditram Nchimbi and Msuva.