Dar es Salaam. The national soccer team, Taifa Stars, head coach, Emmanuel Amunike, says his team is capable of sparkling at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
“We know that we are not the favourites, but this does not mean that we are not capable of performing well in Egypt,” Amunike said yesterday.
The Afcon finals kick off on June 21 in Egypt featuring 24 teams.
East Africa has four representatives in this elite tournament –Taifa Stars, Kenya’s Harambee Stars, Uganda Cranes and Burundi.
No East African team has ever won the Nations Cup.
Many pundits would argue that now is the time to change the East African region’s Afcon story.
The region has always promised a great deal in the international showcase, but delivered very little.
Some of the reasons for failing to shine at the Afcon qualifiers and finals include, poor preparations as well as technical and tactical errors.
“We want to be ourselves and then see whether that will be enough, how far that takes us,” he added.
Amunike’s men will be competing in the Afcon finals for the first time in 39 years.
They last took part in the championship in 1980 in Nigeria.
Tanzania is in Pot four together with Kenya, Mauritania, Benin, Madagascar and Namibia in the Egypt finals, according to the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
Pot one consists of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Senegal, while Pot two comprises Morocco, Nigeria, Algeria, Guinea, Mali and DR Congo.
Pot three teams are Uganda, South Africa, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe, Angola and Burundi.
The draw for the finals will take place on April 12 in Cairo, Egypt.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Harambee Stars coach, Sebastien Migne, believes that teams in the Cecafa region are on the upward trajectory in the world of football.
This comes after the region produced four teams among the 24 qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all made it to the 24-team competition slated for Egypt from June 21 to July 19.
While Uganda topped Group L on 13 points, Tanzania had to wait until the last qualification match to sail through.
book their slot with a 3-0 over Cranes to finish second in the same group on eight points.
Kenya headed into the final round away to Ghana topping group “F” but after a 1-0 defeat in Accra on Saturday, Migne’s troops settled for second position on seven points, one below leaders four-time continental champions, Ghana.
The Swallows of Burundi came second in group “C” on 10 points, four below Mali who topped the standings.
“We will see in the next Afcon some exciting derbies from this region,” said Migne.
“It means East African football is slowly coming back but we need to confirm at this tournament what level we are in football wise. It will be difficult but we should not go to participate but compete.”