Dar es Salaam. Today is the day when the national football team, Taifa Stars, play in their do or die Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against their Lesotho counterparts, the Crocodiles.
Taifa Stars today need a 100 per cent victory at the Sesoto Stadium in Maseru if they are to qualify for the Afcon finals scheduled for June 15 to July 23 next year in Cameroon.
A total of 24 teams will feature in the finals.
For Lesotho, who have so far collected two points from four matches, a victory will make them collect five points and hence revive their hopes of qualifying.
Taifa Stars sit second in Group L with five points from three matches. Uganda Cranes, who have qualified for the Afcon finals after beating Cape Verde 1-0 in Kampala yesterday, are leading the group with 13 points.
Cape Verde, who lost 2-0 to Taifa Stars at the National Stadium last month, are third with four points.
Today’s match will be under Burundian referees, namely, Thierry Nkurunziza, who will be at the centre, and assistants Jean Claude Birunushahu and Willy Habimana. Also on the list is Pascal Ndimunzigo.
Taifa Stars head coach Emmanuel Amunike, who mostly applies total football, has put his boys through a rigorous 10-day training session in South Africa.
The game starts at 3pm Tanzanian time. “All players are in top form with high spirits, they have vowed to surprise Tanzanians by doing what their brothers did nearly four decades ago--qualifying for Afcon finals. It is all about team work,” Taifa Stars team manager Danny Msangi said. Msangi said that they don’t underrate Lesotho who forced a 1-1 draw in the first match held at Azam Complex in Dar es Salaam. He said that the players were determined not to let down Tanzanians in the encounter to be witnessed also by Sports Minister Harrison Mwakyembe.
“It is not an easy match. We need to do our best in the encounter. We had a good training session in Bloemfontein in South Africa. We camped there so as to acclimatise ourselves with conditions similar to those of Lesotho. We’re doing all we can for the nation,” he said.
Lesotho head coach Moses Maliehe also expressed his optimism that his side, the Crocodiles, would do their best in the encounter. Maliehe said they would have to win to revive their hopes.