Tanzania, South Sudan battle for qualification for U-23 AFCON finals

23Sep 2022
Michael Mwebe
The Guardian
Tanzania, South Sudan battle for qualification for U-23 AFCON finals

TANZANIA’s national U-23 football team and its counterpart from South Sudan will battle for a place in the second round of the 2023 U-23 African Nations Cup qualifiers when they meet in the first leg of their first-round qualifier at Azam Complex Stadium in Dar es Salaam today evening.

Players making Tanzania's national U-23 football team participate in training at Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Youth Park in Dar es Salaam early this week ahead of the 2022 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers' match against South Sudan slated to take place at Azam Complex Stadium today. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TFF

The winner of the two legs will lock horns with Nigeria in the final qualifying stage for next year’s U-23 AFCON slated in Morocco.

Four teams from that competition will make it to the 2024 Olympic Games which will take place in Paris.

Coach Hemed Suleiman 'Morocco'-led Tanzanian youngsters will heavily rely on the experience of Belgium-based striker Kelvin John and midfielder Novatus Dismas and South Africa-based Ally Msengi in the duel slated for 7 pm kick-off.

Geita Gold FC’s Edmund John and Azam FC’s Tepsie Evance will be expected to provide ammunition from the flanks, as Dismas and Msengi marshal the central midfield.

Suleiman can also look to Coastal Union’s Vincent Abubakar and KMKM's Khalid Habibu Idd to man the midfield.

Between the posts, Suleiman is likely to start with Young Africans’ Aboutwalib Msherry with a four-man backline of Nathaniel Chilambo, Pascal Msindo, Abdulrazack Hamza, and Elias Lawi.

Captain John and Abdul Suleiman ‘Sopu’ will most likely lead the front line. Other forward options are Kagera Sugar’s Anuary Jabir, Prisons’ Oscar Paul and Edwin Paul, Mundhir Abdallah, and England-based Ben Starkie.

Coach Suleiman believes he has a good squad that can deliver good results against an improving South Sudan side which he says plays a physical and aggressive brand of football.

Suleiman revealed: “All the players are in good health, we have one more training session. We know the importance of this game."

"South Sudan is an ever-improving team but I believe we have a good squad."

The gaffer noted: "We have had good preparations, my players have adapted quickly beyond my expectations, so I believe we are ready to get the desired results.”

Skipper John stressed the importance of winning the first leg to progress to the next round in their quest to qualify for the U-23 AFCON for the first time in Tanzania’s history.

John revealed: “All of us players are ready for the game. We know the importance of this game, it is an AFCON qualifier, we aim to qualify for AFCON and we can’t do so without a victory in this one. For every game that is before us, we have to get the desired results.”

The attacker pointed out: “We respect our opponents, it is a good team as we know each other from previous meetings. It is an important game for us and as the group leader, I can say the squad morale is high." 

"We are ready to give our all to get good results not only here at home but also away to progress to the next round.” 

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