2009 CHAN FINALS: Taifa Stars in tricky date

THE national soccer team, Taifa Stars, meets hosts Cote d’Ivoire in a do-or-die showdown of the African Nations Championships (CHAN) finals today.

The Group A match at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium is a tricky date for both sides which lost their respective opening matches.

Stars lost 0-1 to Senegal’s Lions of Teranga while Cote d’Ivoire took off to a disappointing start in front of home fans after losing 0-3 to Zambia’s Chipolopolo.

The hosts’ defeat has sent shock waves among the country’s soccer fans and signaled chances of the team’s early exit in the tournament.

Another match tonight pitting Senegal against Zambia will bring together two teams which recorded victories in their first games.

The Senegal-Zambia encounter will be the first followed by the match between Taifa Stars and Cote d’Ivoire which is expected to be action-packed.

Stars’ coach Marcio Maximo has said he is aware of circumstances surrounding today’s game against the hosts and will take a careful approach.

’’We know they will attack us from early on given that they will be enjoying the support of their fans, but the situation does not pose any threat to my lads because it is the hosts who will be subjected to too much pressure,’’ said Maximo.

’’We will have to pass the ball around quickly because technically a huge player can not run fast,’’ he said, referring to Cote d’Ivoire players.

Maximo, however, admitted that Stars need to give their all in the game as opposed to what they did in the opening match against Senegal if they are to command a comprehensive win.

Maximo should be careful on the selection of the players considering that the team lacked sharpness upfront.

His starting line up is expected to include a couple of players who put an impressive performance against Senegal despite coming on as substitutes.

They include midfielders Nurdin Bakari and Abdi Kassim who will link with strikers Mussa Hassan ’Mgosi’ and Mrisho Ngassa, who were among the players who performed well in the first match.

The return of attacking midfielder Kigi Makassy is set to offer Maximo a new lease of life. Makassy did not play against Senegal because he was serving a suspension.

Tanzanians expect Stars to avoid repeating mistakes committed in the first match.

One of the countless blunders the team committed was failure by the defenders to deal with aerial balls whipped in by Senegal whenever the latter pushed forward.

Today’s match is a must-win affair to Stars as poor results will put them on the brink of a quick exit.

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