TAIFA Stars’ defeat on Friday night against their counterparts, Equatorial Guinea and their subsequent elimination from their Afcon run was expected before they even took off from Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) for the central African country.
Their defeat was a foregone conclusion because they had not been prepared in any way, by the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), for the tournament and whoever read my sports column on Wednesday this week, I had left no doubt, in my writing that there was no way they were going to win the match As we all know now, Taifa Stars conceded the lone goal, as always, at the tail end of the match in the 89th minute.
I have said as always because if you analysed Taifa Stars’ defeats in the last two decades, you would discover that they always conceded in the opening and at the tail end of their matches. They always conceded in the opening minutes of the game due to lack of concentration on the part of the players and did the same thing at the tail end of the game on account of tiredness.
Lack of concentration and tiredness are problems which are a result of lack of intensive training and friendly matches against well, drilled and more skillful teams and this is a problem Taifa Stars have suffered from year in, year out. I have personally not seen Taifa Stars play so horribly as they did in Malabo on Thursday night.
And, Taifa Stars’ lineup was a clear demonstration of what I had written on Wednesday this week, namely, the effect of what had been caused by the change of coaches. I’m quite sure, had we maintained the same team that had represented us in Cameroon, during the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) soccer tournament, we would have done better than what we did on Thursday night.
Simply put, Taifa Stars were beaten by their counterparts on Friday night and subsequently eliminated from the Afcon run through the TFF officials’ cavalier running of soccer in the country. For instance, let’s just ask ourselves; did they have to sack the Burundian coach Etienne Ndayiragije after the team’s failure to excel in the Chan finals?
As I had rightly noted in my Wednesday’s sports column, Taifa Stars’ participation in the Chan tournament this year was the best since they first took part in such a tournament.
For the first time, the team had very few players from Simba and Young Africans and that is why they played better, and all because they (the TFF) had taken a cue from departed President John Magufuli after he had said Simba na Yanga wametuchelewesha sana, meaning, Simba and Young Africans have for a long time delayed us from winning in competitive soccer matches.
In Malabo on Thursday night, unfortunately the defence let us down and in the proverbial eleventh hour. Had Taifa Stars played a barren draw on Friday night, they could have bagged in the fifth point and they could have ultimately won a place in the Afcon finals had they won their last match, at home, against the Libyans and Equatorial Guinea lose to Tunisia.
In short, the Malabo match was very critical for Taifa Stars’ success or otherwise. Winning against Equatorial Guinea could have easily given our team their second outing in the Afcon finals. In fact, if there was anything that TFF officials were supposed to have done in preparation for the team in the Afcon qualifiers, it was in the match against Equatorial Guinea.
But as I had already said in my last sports column on Wednesday this week, the TFF did not plan anything for our team in terms of their preparation for their last two matches against both Equatorial Guinea and Libya. And, as they say, if you don’t plan, then you automatically plan to fail. And, this is what has finally come to pass.