Shape up, Magufuli tells Taifa Stars, sports chiefs

Saturday October 20 2018

President John Magufuli talks to Sports

President John Magufuli talks to Sports minister Harrison Mwakyembe (2nd right), Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) president Wallace Karia (centre), TFF secretary general Kidao Wilfred (2nd left) and Taifa Stars assistant captain Erasto Nyoni (left) at State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday. PHOTO|STATE HOUSE 

By Majuto Omary @majutoy2k

Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli has contributed Sh50 million to support Taifa Stars ahead of an Africa Cup of Nation (Afcon) encounter against Lesotho on November 18.

He told Taifa Stars players at the State House yesterday, that he wanted them to qualify for Afcon finals. Tanzania last did so in 1980. He said it was a shame for the nation of 55 million people to fail to qualify in African competitions.

“We need victory in the next two matches to qualify for the finals,” he said. “Thirty-eight years of not qualifying is a long period. We have to beat Lesotho in the encounter away from home and later beat Uganda on our soil,” he said.

“I have been disappointed with our team’s losses. I think that is the case for all Tanzanian soccer fans. That should change; we should become a nation of winners.

“I don’t want the team to lose or draw. You, Taifa Stars head coach Emmanuel Amunike, should do your calculations very well for our team to win. I trust you and I know you can deliver,” he said.

The president said one of the reasons he did not have the urge to fervently support any team locally was the frustration that more often than not comes with losing. He said he did not want his hopes dashed at the last minute when the team he supports loses.

And according to him, many Tanzanians were also increasingly feeling betrayed and losing interest in supporting their own teams at home because of unmet expectations.

Taifa Stars are now placed second with five points in Group L while Uganda lead with 10 points.

Two top teams in the group will qualify for Afcon finals in Cameroon from June 15 to July 13, next year. The president urged Taifa Stars to play as a team despite their differences in the domestic leagues.

President Magufuli is also unhappy with corrupt sports leaders and warned them to stop doing so as they would be prosecuted. He said such leaders had been misappropriating funds and stagnating sports development.

“Players are demoralised as they suffer when the leadership is poor and funds are misappropriated. Normally, such leaders promised to do good things when elected, but they do the opposite when they win.”