Hemed Morocco confident ahead of crucial 2026 World Cup qualifier against Zambia

By Seth Mapoli , The Guardian
Published at 06:00 AM Jun 11 2024
Taifa Stars acting head coach Hemed ‘Morocco’ Suleiman.
Photo: Agencies
Taifa Stars acting head coach Hemed ‘Morocco’ Suleiman.

TANZANIA national football team, Taifa Stars, departed the country on Saturday brimming with confidence ahead of their crucial 2026 World Cup Group E qualifying match against Zambia’s Chipolopolo, scheduled for today.

In their recent Africa Cup of Nations Group F encounter, Zambia and Taifa Stars faced off in a closely contested match that ended in a 1-1 draw. Simon Msuva opened the scoring for Tanzania, while Patson Daka salvaged a late equalizer for Zambia with a goal in the 88th minute.

Acting head coach Hemed ‘Morocco’ Suleiman expressed his confidence in the squad, which predominantly consists of players who participated in the recent African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023). 

Coach Morocco believes the experience and cohesion developed during AFCON will be pivotal in their upcoming match.

“Our team is well-prepared and united,” Morocco said. “We’ve been practicing diligently for this game. We know it will be tough, but I’m grateful to have a squad largely made up of players who played in AFCON.”

The match will take place at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, and Morocco is optimistic about the team’s improved performance. Despite the challenge posed by Zambia, he is confident in his players' ability to rise to the occasion.

Morocco also addressed the absence of key players, goalkeeper Aishi Manula and forward Mbwana Samatta. He emphasized that the national team is a collective effort and that the remaining players are ready to step up.

“We recognize Manula’s contribution, but we also have talented young players ready to take on the responsibility,” he stated. “Veteran players are leaving, and it’s essential to give opportunities to those present to prove themselves in major championships ahead.”

Team captain Himid Mao echoed Morocco’s sentiments, expressing the squad’s readiness and determination to secure a positive result. 

Mao highlighted the importance of the game and the high morale within the team.

“We are prepared for this game and have given it the significance it deserves,” Mao said. “With the good preparations we’ve had and the high morale, we believe everything will go well.”

Currently, Tanzania sits in fourth place in their group with three points after two matches. Zambia is in second place with the same points but has played three matches. Morocco tops the group with six points, having won both of their two matches so far.

In their recent encounter on June 7, Morocco clashed with Zambia, emerging victorious with a 2-1 win. The triumph came courtesy of an early goal by Hakim Ziyech in the 5th minute and a follow-up strike by Eliese Ben Seghir in the 67th minute. 

Despite Zambia’s efforts, they managed to find the net only once, with Edward Chilufya scoring for them in the 80th minute.

As the Taifa Stars gear up for their crucial encounter against Chipolopolo, the team’s preparation and spirit will be vital in determining their success on the road to the 2026 World Cup finals.