Stars need to step up preps for AFCON, COSAFA campaigns


AS the country’s attention was for the past few days directed towards the Under- 17 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, where Serengeti Boys bowed out gallantly, the focus will now switch to the national senior side, Taifa Stars.

Already, Taifa Stars, head Coach Salum Mayanga has picked a 23 strongman squad, in readiness for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers match against Lesotho, scheduled to be on stage on June 10 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

The team commenced training on Wednesday to Monday in Dar es Salaam, before travelling to Egypt on Tuesday for a weeklong camp.

The Stars is expected back in the country on June 7 ready to host Lesotho. In the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, Tanzania is pooled in group L alongside Lesotho, Cape Verde Island and Uganda. 2019 AFCON finals will be staged in Cameroon.

Again, from June 25th up to July 9th this year, Taifa Stars will have a busy timetable in South Africa. This is so because the national’s senior team will compete in the 2017 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Castle Cup for the third time ever since the tournament was inaugurated in 1997.

The Stars’ have got the glorious opportunity to showcase their maturity as the guest team from East Africa. This will enable the competition mainly dominated by Southern Africa States to have East African football flavor, courtesy of the country’s national team.

Having been paired in Group A together with Angola, Malawi and Mauritius, mathematically it seems to be an easy ride category for the flag bearers even though on ground, still remains a puzzle hard to comprehend.

It should be noted that in this pool, only Angola has won the COSAFA Castle Cup four times whereas the rest of the teams in this chapter are yet to embrace the prestigious silverware. Malawi on the other hand reached into the finals in 2002-2003 consecutively, but never won it.

Yes, June is just next month meaning that Taifa Stars should begin preparations for the upcoming big football showpiece which has attracted fourteen teams.

The winners of Group A will play against the defending Champions South Africa in the first quarterfinal match. Swaziland will be waiting for the victors of Group B that comprises Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique and Seychelles. The other last eight games will involve Botswana against Zambia, while Namibia will play Lesotho in another classic quarterfinal meeting.

The losing teams in the last eight will enter into the plate competition. The COSAFA Castle Cup which has a longtime romance with Castle Lager as the main sponsors has mostly been won four times by South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Angola has three titles to their name, whereas Namibia won it once in 2015. At the moment, fruits of Serengeti Boys have matured and are being enjoyed by every citizen of the land. However, Serengeti Boys success did not come from nothing.

The Boys were exposed to numerous build-up games a situation that has hugely contributed to the team’s performance in Gabon. They say the only way to do better in the game of football is through preparations hence failure to prepare in advance, one should forget thinking about making it big especially winning titles.

This is the best time for the senior team to assemble and commence comprehensive training sessions for the purpose of letting the old and new blood injected into the squad mix up together in desirable way. Additionally, Taifa Stars need to be exposed to lots of friendly matches by facing teams which originate from Southern Africa.

This will help them in a game against Lesotho and in COSAFA Cup campaign. By doing this, players will fully be aware of what system of soccer they will experience while in foreign land.

Remember, in 2015 when the country’s team participated in the COSAFA event, Taifa Stars were dumped out of the tournament earlier than expected after losing all the three matches without scoring even a single goal.

However, the past is gone and remains only history. The upcoming COSAFA Castle Cup should be the opportunity to rephrase the nation’s football history and make huge impact than ever before. Gone are the days when football used to flourish under minimal budget.

Now days, the more you invest in this beautiful game on planet, the more you attract positive results and put yourself on the world map.

The same support and courage shown by people towards Serengeti Boys must also be directed at Taifa Stars and see how this time around, the senior side will perform.

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