Star-studded Elephants jet in

TFF secretary general Fredrick Mwakalebela

Star-studded Elephants as the Cote d’Ivoire national soccer team is popularly known, are expected to land at the Julius Nyerere International Airport later in the evening today.

The Tanzania Football Federation’s (TFF) secretary general Fredrick Mwakalebela said the contingent comprise a line-up of 23 players and an official.

Two other officials of the team arrived safely in Dar es Salaam ahead of the team yesterday. The team jets in to honour invitation of the TFF for a friendly international to be played at the national Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Monday.

The visitors will play another friendly against Rwanda three days after their clash with their hosts at the same venue.

The arrival of the Ivorians would count as a challenge for the Taifa Stars to gauge their prowess against one of the continent’s highly rated football nations.

While Stars have their duty to subdue the Elephants on the field on Monday, the rest of us need to accord the visitors warm karibu and extend our usual second to none hospitality so says Mwakelebela.

It will be the first friendly international in the unfolding year for the Marcio Maximo’s trained Taifa Stars, that has been reduced to mere spectators at international football tournaments after crashing out of the African Nations and World Cup qualifiers.

Stars played paltry eleven international matches that included three competitive CHAN championship in Cote d’Ivoire, wining three, drawing as many and losing the rest.

Quite a poor record for the team though the soccer federation has been extending leniency to maintain the Brazilian coach despite the conspicuous failures.

Hard as the Ivorians are reputed on the field, should they make use of their first choice line-up on Monday, Stars have an uphill task to prove them wrong.

It’s a match Stars have a torrid moment to endure should they need to meet satisfaction of the home fans if victory is their top priority.

The home side stays hopeful as they take to the field banking on venue familiarity, fans and media support. Ivorians will be seeking to maintain their status as the second best side I the continent in terms of ranking and the prowess of qualifying for the World cup twice in succession.

It’s not a good yardstick for the Elephants but they would not like to lose a match in their build up for the Nations Cup finals in Angola that kicks off next week.

The Elephants will be the third high profile team from West Africa after Ghana and Cameroon to visit the country since 2008.

The full line-up of players and their respective teams in bracket expected to arrive in today’s flight are as follows;

Goalkeepers; Boubakary Barry (Lokeren, Belgium), Aristide Zogbo (Makabi Netanya, Israel), Vincent De and Paul Angban of Asec Mimosas.

Defenders; Kolo Toure ( Manchester City), Emmanuel Eboue ( Arsenal), Guy Demel (SV Hamburg), Souleman Bamba (Hibernian, Scotland), and Benjamin Angoua Brou (Kipset Honvad, Hungary).

Others are Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart,), Abdoulaye Meite (West Bromwich Albion,), Siaka Tiene (Valenciene, France).

Midfielders: Yahya Toure (Barcelona ), Didier Zokora (Sevilla), Emmanuel Kouamatien Kone (International Curtea, Romania), Cheik Ismael Tiote ( FC Twenty, Holland), Emerse Fae (Nice) and Jean-Jacques Gosso Gosso (AS Monaco).

The list also has strikers Didier Drogba (Chelsea,), Solomon Kalou (Chelsea), Bakari Kone (Marseille), Kadel Keita (Galatasaray) Haruna Dindane (Portsmouth) and Gervais Yao Kouassi (Lille).

The team’s head coach is Vahid Halilhodzic from Bosnia.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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