Tanzania’s soccer standard will be subjected to yet another test today when the national Under-17 soccer team takes on Angola in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam. The Group A clash match takes place at a time when local soccer fans are striving to come to terms with the team’s dismal show in their first two matches.
Serengeti Boys – as the youth side is popularly known – lost 5-4 to Nigeria before going down 0-3 at the hands of Uganda. Today’s match, therefore, presents a golden opportunity for them to redeem their dwindling fortunes with a victory. Nigeria, who top Group A with six points, have qualified for the semi-finals of the biannual tournament. Uganda and Angola have three points each, but the former are ahead on goal difference, while Serengeti Boys are at the bottom with no point.
To sail through, Serengeti Boys need a win of at least four clear goals against Angola, and pray that Nigeria beat Uganda by at least three clear goals.
But, as team coach Oscar Mirambo said yesterday, in football anything can happen. Mirambo believes his team still have a chance to qualify for the semi-finals.
His optimism stems from the fact, perhaps, that the senior national soccer team, Taifa Stars, defied the odds earlier this year to down Uganda 3-0 and qualify for the Afcon finals for the first time in 39 years.
It was not an easy task. Taifa Stars not only needed a win against Uganda, but also prayed that Cape Verde to draw or beat Lesotho in their final qualifier.
Fortunately, things went well for Taifa Stars thumped the Ugandans and Cape Verde and Lesotho battled to a barren draw. And the country qualified for the Afcon finals to be held in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.