Maximo stunned as critics tight-lipped
Despite a one goal loss in their first international friendly of the year against visiting Cote d’Ivoire played at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Monday night, Stars’ head coach Marcio Maximo has been stunned by fans’ unique composure.
The Brazilian has been nostalgic of the Tanzanian fans who have for the big part of the last year breathing heavily behind his neck as a result of lacklustre show.
Maximo has been experiencing a torrid moment especially in the last two months of the preceding year when Taifa Stars flopped in three friendlies played during the ad hoc Middle East tour in November.
Fans have also been calling for his immediate sacking when the Mainland soccer team did not perform well during the Council of East and Central African Football Association’s Senior Challenge Cup held in Nairobi, where the team finished fourth.
Eleven international matches were played by Taifa Stars (not Kilimanjaro Stars) during the year, wining three and drawing as many while losing the rest.
Stars were more galvanized side when they played against the West African side on Monday night only to lose by a first half lone goal scored by Didier Drogba’s trademark headers.
Otherwise, fans were treated by superb football display by the Maximo-trained boys who created a host of scoring opportunities only for profligate finish to disappoint the crowd.
While Maximo was expecting a backlash of fans after the defeat, fans were actually satisfied by the performance of their team against the well-drilled Ivorians.
The huge turn-up of spectators most of them entering the stadium after the first half, kept cheering their team every moment they displayed flashes of brilliance on the pitch.
President Jakaya Kikwete was also not left behind as he joined thousands of fans to follow through the action as it unfolded.
Perhaps what Maximo did not note is that fans knew for sure they needed miracles to beat the 16th ranked team in the World, as odds were almost against them. However, the major concern was not the loss but rather the margin of loss.
A 5-1 goals demolition at the hands of the Egyptians during last year’s friendly in Cairo provoked the same fans particularly on the grounds of poor selection of players on part of the coach.
Fans had a value for money during the Monday night’s match as the visitors fielded their cream of first choice players, most of them featuring in the European top flight leagues across England, Spain and France.
Probably their Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic, deserves a pat on the back for fielding the line-up while downplaying the possibility of injury ahead of Nations Cup finals that gets underway this weekend in Angola.
Cote d’Ivoire are in the country on the invitation extended by the Tanzania Football Federation for two international friendlies, the other against Rwanda national team at the same venue tomorrow.