Home » General » Taifa Stars in Lion’s Den

TANZANIA’S Taifa Stars flew into Harare yesterday, a day earlier than scheduled, with Dutch coach Maart Nooj declaring they were bracing for a tough examination in their Nations Cup eliminator at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday. The East Africans showed they are taking the big match seriously, and leaving nothing to chance, by deciding to spend more time in the lion’s den.

The Tanzanians have already played a series of friendly internationals ahead of these first round qualifiers.

The team wrapped up their preparations with a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Malawi on Tuesday.

Midfielder Amri Kiemba scored the lone goal in the 36th minute.

The team arrived with a delegation of 30 players and officials in the afternoon and immediately went down to serious business with a light training session.

The Taifa Stars, however, travelled without their star TP Mazembe forwards — Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu.

The duo was still to be released by their club when the team left Tanzania yesterday morning, but the Taifa Stars were still hoping to get them for Sunday’s match.

TP Mazembe have a crucial Caf Champions League game against Egyptian side Zamalek next week and they had called the pair back to the Democratic Republic of Congo after the first leg assignment.

Tanzania edged Zimbabwe 1-0 in the first leg a fortnight ago and their coach Nooj wants his side to complete the mission on this tough away assignment.

John Bocco scored the lone goal that handed them the aantage over the Warriors in Dar es salaam.

Nooj threw a wall of protection around his team yesterday at their base at Pandhari Lodge in Glen Lorne in the capital.

The Dutchman told the Cafonline website that they were ready for a thorough examination of their pedigree in Harare and warned his players against complacency.

“We have a tough outing against Zimbabwe who are a very good side and we cannot afford any slip-ups when we face them over the weekend,” said Nooj.

“It is definitely a daunting task but I always believe nothing is impossible if we can manage to score another early goal then we will have an aantage.

“I have urged my players to give 100 percent in this important clash as it’s our only opportunity to proceed to the second round of matches and Tanzania being a football crazy country, where fans love the game a lot, we would not wish to disappoint them at all despite facing tricky opponents who fired from all cylinders when we played in the first leg.”

Nooj will still be hoping for inspiration from the TP Mazembe duo of Samatta and Ulimwengu, who they expect to join camp in Harare, while towering forward Bocco will again spearhead the goal hunt to unsettle the hosts.

However, Zimbabwe know fully well what they are coming up against and have remained defiant that they will overturn the deficit.

Warriors manager Sharrif Mussa yesterday said they were looking to make the most of familiar conditions at home and expected a full house at the giant stadium, despite the setbacks they have been facing in preparation for the match.

Mussa reported that the duo of Hardlife Zvirekwi and Danny Phiri, who had picked knocks during the midweek, were back to full fitness.

The team had practice matches with the league champions Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium yesterday and the pair was heavily involved in the proceedings although the technical team was cautious with Tendai Ndoro who pulled a muscle.

Mussa, however, said the striker should be available for the game as the injury was not serious.

Libya-based forward Edward Sadomba had not arrived by late evening yesterday although the technical team was expecting him to join the squad by last night.

“We had a good work out (against Dynamos) but there is still a long way to go. Obviously, time is something that we wanted the most but we have to maximise on the little that we have got.

“The boys have been having two training sessions per day and I am sure in the remaining two days we will be able to get ourselves up for it,” said Mussa.

The Zimbabwe players have made a commitment to redeem themselves following the first leg loss.

CAPS United fullback Ronald Pfumbidzai, who is one of the young players in the team, said they have to win at all costs.

“It’s a must-win game. We have to play to the best of our abilities and the good thing is that everyone appears geared up.

“But we cannot take anything from our opponents, they are a good side and their wingers have pace.

“I am confident though that we can beat them here. We know we have to win. So we are taking the game as it is,” said Pfumbidzai.

Source : The Herald