This year’s tournament is expected to be thrilling and intriguing despite the absence of Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. The five nations which have been dominant in the continental football experienced a shock-riddled qualifying competition that ended with no- hopers Niger and Botswana making the finals for the first time.
For the majority, it will be sad to miss the five nations because, as acknowledged by the African football legend Ghanaian Abedi Pele, these are big-name football countries who bring excitement to the game throughout Africa. However, for others, it will be a blessing in disguise because for them it means that the standard of football is fast growing.
In fact, the qualification of such nations as Botswana and Niger offer yet another challenge for Tanzania, which has failed to make it to the finals for the past 32 years. The biggest lesson for our country’s football is the way the two underdogs came out of age to surprise and suppress giants to qualify.
Indeed, the performance of these underdog teams came out of nothing but through preparations, determination, focus and passion to achieve good results. They discarded their covers of underdogs and cuddled the spirit to fight for their nations. The two nations have proved that they are capable of pulling a few surprises.
Apparently, Tanzania is capable of doing the same as far as the football standard is concerned compared to Botswana and Niger. Tanzania has missed out of the tournament for the past three decades, but slightly the country is beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Taifa Stars have showed great potential in recent years by winning big matches.
They beat Burkina Faso twice in their 2006/7 AFCON campaign. They also managed to hold mighty Senegal to a 1-1 draw in Mwanza, after losing 4-0 in Dakar at the same campaign. Stars also recorded some decent results against Cameroon, Cape
Verde and Mauritius during the AFCON 2010 qualifiers and they repeated the feat during the 2012 qualifiers with a stunning 1-1 draw away against mighty Algeria.
And, as Stars prepare for the 2013 campaign, which kicks off next month, hopes are that the team can rediscover the same spirit that led them to stage good performance against tough opponents to get positive results.