Tanzania U-23 team closes in on CECAFA U-23 Challenge tournament

28Jul 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Tanzania U-23 team closes in on CECAFA U-23 Challenge tournament

TANZANIA's national U-23 football team has booked a place in this season's Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) U-23 Challenge Cup final, edging South Sudan U-23 team 1-0 in the semi-final held at Bahir Dar Stadium, Ethiopia, yesterday.

Tanzania's national U-23 football side. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CECAFA

The midfielder, Kelvin Nashon, notched the lone goal in the second half as Kim Poulsen-coachedTanzania U-23 squad put up spirited displays to keep South Sudan U-23 squad in check.

Keeper, Metacha Mnata, had to sit out the semi-final tie as he accumulated two yellow cards in Tanzania U-23 team's group games where the squad beat DR Congo 1-0 and drew 1-1 with Uganda.

Tanzania U-23 squad's keeper, Wilbroad Maseke, was not quite troubled for much of the first half of the semi-final tie, which took place in the morning, given there was not much action within the squad's penalty box.

Neither of the two teams found the back of the net as the opening 45 minutes eventually ended.

A South Sudan U-23 squad winger attempted a long-range effort which went over in the 52nd minute as the team sought to open the scoring.

Tanzania U-23 squad's technical bench chose to wring changes in the team on the 57th minute, bringing in the attacker, Yusuph Mhilu, and resting midfielder, Bryson Raphael.

A South Sudan U-23 team's defender picked his teammate with a long pass from the left three minutes later, the latter executed cross that though went wayward.

South Sudan U-23 team kept on pushing for the opener, however, could not get the better of the Tanzania U-23 squad's backline marshalled by Lusajo Mwaikenda and Sospeter Israel.

A defensive midfielder, Kelvin Nashon, notched the opener for the Tanzania U-23 squad on the 65th minute from a free kick taken a few meters from the South Sudan U-23 squad's area.

The Tanzania U-23 squad won the free-kick after one of the players was fouled during a move they had launched.

Tanzania U-23 squad later showed intent on taking control of the proceedings, they went close on the 67th minute after forward Andrew Simchimba unleashed a fierce shot that was saved by South Sudan U-23's goalie.

Mtibwa Sugar attacker, Joseph Mkele, went to replace the goal scorer, Nashon, for the Tanzania U-23 squad on the 76th minute as the team's coach sought to add sharpness to the striking unit.

South Sudan U-23 team pushed for an equalizer on the 77th minute, as a long pass from the right was cleared by a Tanzania U-23 defender.

The match's referee waved a penalty appeal on the 81st minute after the Tanzania U-23 team's Simchimba had connected a cross from Mkele with a header, which came off one of South Sudan U-23 team's defenders within the latter's penalty area.

Tanzania U-23's team survived a scare during the added-on time as one of South Sudan U-23 team's performers' well-executed corner kick from the left was met by a forward within the former's penalty, the effort however went wide.

The Tanzania U-23's squad worked hard to cling on to their lone goal lead for the remainder of the clash and make it to the showdown's final.

The second semi-final, which was to take place later on the day, pitted the Burundi U-23 team against Kenya’s U-23 squad, Emerging Stars, at the venue.

Tanzania's U-23 team had qualified for the last four's stage with a 1-1 draw with Uganda's U-23 team in the last round-robin match, played at the Bahir Dar Stadium last weekend.

South Sudan U-23 team netted late goals to beat Djibouti 2-0 in their last group game to make it to the knock-out stage.

The showpiece, which kicked off on July 17, will come to an end on Friday.

The 2021 CECAFA U-23 Challenge Cup is the 41st edition of the annual regional tournament.

It is an international football competition bringing together national teams of member nations of the CECAFA.

The annual CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is considered the oldest football tournament in Africa.

The tournament is collaborative between the larger Eastern African countries and part of Central Africa and is run by CECAFA.

The CECAFA is made up of 11 members, 10 of whom are federations recognized by the world soccer governing body, FIFA.

They are Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Kenya.

The 11th member– Zanzibar-is still chasing the association status with FIFA.

The tournament began way back in 1926 under the name 'Gossage Cup', which then was mainly a Kenya-Uganda affair.

But it grew to include Tanganyika, present-day Tanzania, from 1945 and later the showdown became a four-nation event when Zanzibar joined in 1949.

Gossage Cup, sponsored by Soap manufacturer William Gossage, gave way to the East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup in 1967.

Under this banner, the tournament ran for only five years till 1971 before giving way to the present day CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, which effectively kicked off in 1973.

The first-ever CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup was held in Uganda in 1973 and hosts Uganda emerged winners, beating Tanzania 2-1 in the final.

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