AFRICA Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers is once again on and the question that must be doing numerous rounds on Tanzanians’ minds, and in particular, avid soccer fans is whether Taifa Stars this time around will make it to the Afcon final as it had done in the last tournament?
For Tanzania to make it to the Afcon finals as it had done in June this year, will heavily depend on how much the country had through the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) prepared the team for the present qualifiers.
But talking about the country’s Afcon preparation now is out of question for the simple reason that Afcon qualifications are already on as you read this piece! Yes, Afcon qualification matches start this weekend with Taifa Stars being expected to host to Equatorial Guinea.
The months and dates for the start of Afcon qualification matches, after the end of Afcon finals are supposed to have long been known by an organization like the TFF.
And, if the month was known to the TFF, then Tanzanians and in particular, soccer fans expect the TFF to have at least prepared the team for such a tournament.
But as we all know, they have not, as expected, done that, and Taifa Stars would once again find themselves facing their opponents this coming weekend having played less than five matches if we are to include the two matches Taifa Stars played against Kenya and Sudan (Khartoum) and qualified for the CHAN tournament.
But outside the CHAN tournament, which is only confined to local players, Taifa Stars have had no friendly matches to talk of in preparation for the present Afcon qualifiers.
And what this means is, it’s foolhardy for Tanzanians to carry high hopes on their team. Perhaps, at best, they can only expect another ‘la Sudan,’ a miracle that was pulled out by Ditram Nchimbi, a man who had hardly had two caps for Taifa Stars.
To cut a long story short, we don’t prepare for any tournament, be it Chan, Afcon or Fifa World Cup; and yet we have always had the audacity expect to do well in such tournaments where others prepare thoroughly not before the tournament, but throughout the year.
The team Taifa Stars are expected to face this weekend, as part of their qualification for the forthcoming Afcon soccer tournament, Equatorial Guinea, is not a bad team.
And talking about good and bad African soccer teams, there are not bad teams in Africa these days if the past Afcon finals played in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, is anything to go by.
Indeed, we all saw how teams like Madagascar gave some of the best teams in the continent a run for their money in the June 2019 Afcon finals.
Madagascar along with Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius, the Comoros and Seychelles are countries whose soccer teams, from national to clubs used to serve as ladders for Tanzanian soccer teams barely two decades ago.
But the way Madagascar performed in the June Afcon finals, I don’t think any Tanzanian soccer fan would any longer consider Madagascar national soccer team an easy team if they were to be paired with Tanzania.
This is exactly what we now ought to look at the Equatorial Guinea when they finally take on our national soccer team.
The point is, we need to make full use of the proverbial home ground advantage and this is somewhat very much against us, because we fail to use the twelfth player in Dar es Salaam.