Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s soccer standard will be subjected to yet another test today when the national soccer team, Taifa Stars, take on Algeria’s Desert Warriors in an international friendly match.
The encounter will afford Stars coach Salum Mayanga a perfect opportunity to assess his players ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against DR Congo at the National Stadium on March 27.
Taifa Stars arrived in Algeria yesterday for the match, which kicks off at 6pm at Stade du 5-Juillet-1962 in Algiers.
Tanzania is ranked 146th in the latest Fifa world rankings, 86 places behind Algeria.
The Algerians have also been performing impressively in the Nations Cup, while Taifa Stars’ first ever appearance at the Afcon finals dates back to 1980 in Nigeria, where they did not go beyond the group stage.
But Stars head coach Salum Mayanga says they don’t fear the Warriors.
“Of course, Algeria is among the best football playing nations in Africa. In our situation, we have to try to beat them,” Mayanga told The Citizen by phone from Algiers yesterday. “Experience shows that if people don’t give you any hope, it turns out well,” he added. Team captain Mbwana Samatta, who plies his trade in Belgium with KRC Genk, is among strikers Stars bank on for goals in today’s clash.
Others likely starters are Difaa El Jadida striker Simon Msuva and Rashid Mandawa, who plays for Botswana’s BDF XI.
Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez, Yacine Brahimi (team skipper), Nabil Bentaleb, Sofiane Hanni and Islam Sliman are among players Taifa Stars must mark tightly if they are to avoid a defeat.
The two teams last met in 2015 and Taifa Stars succumbed to a humiliating 7-0 at the hands of the Desert Warriors in a World Cup qualifier.
Stars, then under the tutelage of coach Charles Mkwasa, failed completely to contain the well-drilled and fast-moving Algerians.
Two weeks earlier, the success-starved Stars had forced the Warriors to a 2-2 in the first leg at the National Stadium.