Stars jet off
Taifa Stars contingent of 23 players and eleven officials are boarding Abidjan-destined flight today ahead of the inaugural Championship of African Nations (CHAN) that kicks off on Sunday.
Stars, which regrouped on February 5 and played only one build up match, will play the tournament`s opener against Senegal on Sunday at 21:00 local time.
The Marcio Maximo`s trained team has all players who featured in the six-match qualifiers against Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, with the exception of goalkeeper Ivo Mapunda who joined Ethiopia’s St. Georges last November.
Stars will be featuring in the continent’s second rated Nations Cup tourney exclusively earmarked for domestic based players.
After plunging to 103 in world soccer rankings, Stars have an uphill task to meet satisfaction of highly demanding local fans in their three preliminary matches of the CHAN tourney.
Though no body knows exactly what is in store for the new-look Stars, their last build up match against Zimbabwe leaves much to be desired.
CHAN brings a big difference to the regular biennial African Nations Cup finals that include fully fledged professional players of each qualifying national team.
However, the 1980 Stars also had no foreign based professional but battled gallantly against formidable sides from Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and hosts Nigeria in the group stage matches.
The current Stars will be up against national teams that have well established grassroots soccer promotion programmes, particularly Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire.
To other teams, CHAN will be a perfect stage to exhibit their prowess before global audience and possibly secure green pastures.
Stars players have an opportunity to make use of the CHAN tourney as a super market to display their talents and convince scouting agents who will be alert to hook players.
With a full backing from corporate sponsors Serengeti Breweries and National Microfinance Bank, Stars have whatever they need at their disposal to reciprocate the lucrative sponsorship.
Stars would only qualify for the CHAN`s next stage after posting at least two victories against their opponents in the preliminaries.
This is a time for the Brazilian coach Maximo to redeem his public confidence especially after the nightmares of crashing out of the 2010 African Nations/World Cup qualifiers.
The full line-up of players boarding the flight to Abidjan today are: Deogratius Bonaventure, Shaban Dihile, Farouk Ramadhan, Shadrack Nsajigwa, Salum Swed, Nadir Haroub, Henry Joseph, Kelvin Yondani, Erasto Nyoni, Geoffrey Bonny, Nurdin Bakari, Athuman Iddi, Shaaban Nditi, Kigi Makasi, Abdi Kassim, Juma Jabu, Mwinyi Kazimoto, Musa Hassan, Nizar Khalfan, Mrisho Ngassa, Amir Maftah, Haruna Moshi and Jerry Tegete
Officials accompanying the team include coach Marcio Maximo and his assistant Ali Bushiri, Juma Sufiani (team doctor), TFF president Leodegar Tenga, Fredrick Mwakalebela (TFF secretary), team manager Leopold Tasso, Florian Kaijage, Marcus Tinoco, Said Shaaban Said (a representative of Isles Government) and ZFA president Haji Ameir.
Minister of State in Vice President`s office for Union Affairs Muhammad Sief Khatib is the head of the delegation.
- SOURCE: Guardian