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Azure blue challenges red-green reign

IT’S azure blue closing in on the reign of red-white and green-yellow.

That is Tanzania national team’s colour is winning appeal in the land dominated by Simba-Young Africans mania.

And with high hopes to do well, Tanzania national team, Taifa Stars today host Equatorial Guinea in their first match of Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

With full support of the Tanzanians, it will be again azure blue dominating after the team won the faith of sports lovers and enthusiasts.

The faith in Taifa Stars, was first restored when we qualified for AFCON Finals in Egypt before being firmly cemented by series of feats by national U-17 team, Serengeti Boys, Women senior and U-20 teams.

It was joy for Tanzania when the national U-20 side clinched the maiden CECAFA U-20 Challenge cup after a hard fight 1-0 win over Kenya Rising Stars at FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru, Uganda.

Under the tutelage of Zuberi Katwila went all the way from the group stage to the final unbeaten and managed to beat Kenya in tense final. Also motivated much the Tanzanians to love their national team, was the successful campaign to play in African Nations Championship (CHAN) Cameroon in 2020.

Taifa Stars shocked hosts Sudan with 2-1 away win at El Merreikh Stadium in Omdurman. Tanzania made advantage of the away goals’ rule with the aggregate score tied at 2-2, after Sudan had won the first leg 1-0 in Dar es Salaam. The first half was balanced with slight advantage for the hosts.

Amir Kamal tested Tanzania goalkeeper, Juma Kaseja with a header that missed target after 19 minutes. Frank Domayo responded with a fierce shot that missed Ali Abdullah’s goal narrowly six minutes later. Ditram Nchimbi, who shocked Sudan’s supporters after his 79th minute goal, was among the big players of the campaign.

This is the second time Tanzania reaches CHAN finals after the maiden edition in 2009, when they also qualified on the expense of Sudan, winning 5-2 on aggregate then. Also worth to cherish is the Qatar 2022 Campaign that saw Tanzania clear Burundian hurdle.

For the second time, goalkeeper Juma Kaseja was the hero saving one penalty as Tanzania’s Taifa Stars progressed to the group phase of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers with a 3-0 post-match penalties win over Burundi in the second leg of the preliminary round of qualification on Sunday in Dar es Salaam.

Kaseja was also the hero in similar circumstances as Tanzania progressed to the second qualification round of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) against Kenya last July. The game was forced into penalties after a 1-1 tie in regular time and added time took the aggregate scores to 2-2, following a similar result in Bujumbura last Wednesday.

The experienced Kaseja showed his prowess in penalties, saving once while Burundi struck two wide with Tanzania scoring all of their kicks. Erasto Nyoni, Himid Mao and Gadiel Michael scored as head coach, Etienne Ndayiragije eliminated the country of his birth.

Kaseja saved from Omar Ngando while the experienced duo of Saido Berahino and Gael Bigirimana struck wide. Guest team Tanzania were crowned as the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Champions thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the young Copper Queens of Zambia.

Tanzania started strong and took the lead in the 24th minute thanks to a Opa Sanga strike who benefited from a defensive mix up. Loveness Malunga levelled matters eleven minutes into the second half with a beautiful strike from outside the box.

With the match seeming like it was heading for a draw Protasia Mbunda produced a moment of magic with a beautiful strike from range to seal the win and hand Tanzania the trophy.

Enekia Kasonga Lunyamila from Tanzania was named as the player of the tournament with Zambian duo of Maylan Mulenga and Cynthia Shonga walking away with the top goalscorer and goalkeeper of the tournament’s gongs.

A lot of a nation’s potential wealth lies in its youth and our players in men, women and youth teams are the products. United Nation defines ‘youth’ as: “persons between the ages of 15 and 24.”

It is therefore wise for the nation to focus its development programmes on this part of its population babbling with energy. For quite some time, the nation has tried doing so, but not tried hard enough.

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Mwandishi: MIGUEL SULEYMAN

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