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Taifa Stars face an uphill task to reach Afcon finals

Thursday November 19 2020
stars

National soccer team Taifa Stars’ striker Nchimbi (in blue jersey) negotiates to beat Tunisia players during the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying match at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar on Tuesday night, which was drawn 1-1. photo| michael matemanga

Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s national soccer team Taifa Stars needs a miracle to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals following the 1-1 draw against Tunisia in the match played at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in the city on Tuesday night.

This means that Taifa Stars must win the two matches against Equatorial Guinea - an ‘away’ match to be played next March 22 - and against Libya at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 30.

Currently, Taifa Stars is placed third, with four points from four matches. Equatorial Guinea is second, with six points from the same number of matches.

Libya is at the bottom of the standings - with three points - while Tunisia have already qualified for the Afcon finals to be played in Cameroon in January 2022.

Tunisia will play in the finals for a record 15th time consecutively. In the Tuesday match, Saifeddine Khaoui gave Tunisia an early lead.

Taifa Stars earned their point after substitute Feisal ‘Fei Toto’ Salum scored, cancelling out Khaoui’s first-half opener. Tunisia went to the break a goal up. Khaoui struck the back of the net with a well-taken, first-time shot after being teed-up by skipper Youssef Msakni. The Carthage Eagles player turned the play around after Tanzania’s Ditram Nchimbi - who failed to control a long ball - chested it into Ali Maaloul’s path who then launched the play forward.

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The Tunisians were ‘gifted’ for a positive start to the match and before the goal, Msakni had struck the upright after Tanzanian keeper Aishi Manula came off his line but failed to pick-up the ball, ‘gifting’ the Tunisian skipper with a golden chance to score.

The North Africans continued running rings around their hosts, and controlled ball possession. Wahbi Khazri came close to scoring in the 21st minute but his snap shot from inside the box went wide.

In the 24th minute, Khaoui came close to scoring, but his brilliant shot off a cheeky Khazri back-heel pass only rattled the crossbar.

The Tanzanians created an early chance, with Salum coming on for Himid Mao, a change geared to improve Taifa Stars’ creativity in midfield.

The home side came from the breather like a fresh team - and it took them two minutes to get to level terms. A cross from Nchimbi on the right was chested down by John Bocco with Salum striking a shot that flew into the net.

Taifa Stars’ players kept pushing - and had another chance in the 53rd minute, when Nchimbi’s header from a corner just went wide.

Taifa Stars’ fight was almost nipped in the bud when Khaoui broke into the box for a Msakni pass, but he couldn’t connect with his shot well - and goalkeeper Manula making a save.

The home side continued their fight - and, with quarter of an hour left, came close to scoring. But they were denied a goal by Ben Mustapha who tipped over Msuva’s curling shot for a corner.

This means that Taifa Stars must win the two matches against Equatorial Guinea - an ‘away’ match to be played next March 22 - and against Libya at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 30.

Currently, Taifa Stars is placed third, with four points from four matches. Equatorial Guinea is second, with six points from the same number of matches.

Libya is at the bottom of the standings - with three points - while Tunisia have already qualified for the Afcon finals to be played in Cameroon in January 2022.

Tunisia will play in the finals for a record 15th time consecutively. In the Tuesday match, Saifeddine Khaoui gave Tunisia an early lead.

Taifa Stars earned their point after substitute Feisal ‘Fei Toto’ Salum scored, cancelling out Khaoui’s first-half opener. Tunisia went to the break a goal up. Khaoui struck the back of the net with a well-taken, first-time shot after being teed-up by skipper Youssef Msakni. The Carthage Eagles player turned the play around after Tanzania’s Ditram Nchimbi - who failed to control a long ball - chested it into Ali Maaloul’s path who then launched the play forward.

The Tunisians were ‘gifted’ for a positive start to the match and before the goal, Msakni had struck the upright after Tanzanian keeper Aishi Manula came off his line but failed to pick-up the ball, ‘gifting’ the Tunisian skipper with a golden chance to score.

The North Africans continued running rings around their hosts, and controlled ball possession. Wahbi Khazri came close to scoring in the 21st minute but his snap shot from inside the box went wide.

In the 24th minute, Khaoui came close to scoring, but his brilliant shot off a cheeky Khazri back-heel pass only rattled the crossbar.

The Tanzanians created an early chance, with Salum coming on for Himid Mao, a change geared to improve Taifa Stars’ creativity in midfield.

The home side came from the breather like a fresh team - and it took them two minutes to get to level terms. A cross from Nchimbi on the right was chested down by John Bocco with Salum striking a shot that flew into the net.

Taifa Stars’ players kept pushing - and had another chance in the 53rd minute, when Nchimbi’s header from a corner just went wide.

Taifa Stars’ fight was almost nipped in the bud when Khaoui broke into the box for a Msakni pass, but he couldn’t connect with his shot well - and goalkeeper Manula making a save.

The home side continued their fight - and, with quarter of an hour left, came close to scoring. But they were denied a goal by Ben Mustapha who tipped over Msuva’s curling shot for a corner.

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By Majuto Omary @majutoy2k [email protected]

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