Kikwete: Elephants tour promotes Tanzania

President Kikwete with Taifa Stars at the luncheon, which he had together with Ivory Coast and Rwanda national teams. (Photo by Staff Photographer).
President Kikwete with Taifa Stars at the luncheon, which he had together with Ivory Coast and Rwanda national teams. (Photo by Staff Photographer).

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has said Ivory Coast tour in the country has extensively promoted Tanzania football across the world.

The president said this at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Dar es Salaam today, where he had organized a luncheon in honour of the visiting star-studded Ivory Coast squad, Rwanda national team ‘Amavubi’ and Taifa Stars.

He said the presence of Ivory Coast in the country, the team he described as ‘great football team’ with top world class stars such as Didier Drogba, has compelled several highly rated global sports media to broadly cover Tanzania football for the first time.

“For the first time, I saw Sky Sports talking about Tanzania football. It was a major sports news item of the day.

“Drogba is a big name in football, that is why foreign media were interested to cover the news and this has helped expose out country football standard to the world,” President Kikwete said.

The president further said that he was delighted to see Drogba telling the world positive things about Tanzanian football.

“He was talking about the team (Taifa Stars) playing very well, playing attacking football and not only defending to reduce the number of goals,” he said.

Taifa Stars produced a gallant performance during a friendly match against the Ivoirians at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Monday night, to limit the Elephants to a 1-0 win.

President Kikwete led hundred of thousands of Tanzanian fans to witness the match. He also thanked the Ivory Coast government, especially President Laurent Gbagbo and President of Ivory Coast football governing body Jacques Anoure, for choosing Tanzania to host their team’s camp, as they prepare for the African Cup of Nations set to start in Angola on Sunday.

The President said African teams are in different levels of development, saying the Elephants are in the top level, while Tanzania is at the bottom but still, they (Ivory Coast) chose to come to Tanzania. He told Anoure that there was no much that Tanzania can do but praying for the Ivoirians to lift the AFCON trophy in Angola.

“We will pray for you,” he said.

President Kikwete also praised Rwanda for accepting to honour a friendly match against the Ivoirians, but was quick to warn them that the task ahead was monumental.

“We lost 1-0. Try to beat them tomorrow (today), so that you make East Africa proud. We tried so hard to get at least a draw but Didier (Drogba) was very slippery…he scored against us,” President Kikwete said jokingly amid cheers.

He also presented Taifa Stars jerseys as a souvenir to several Ivory Coast players. He concluded by praising Ivory Coast, saying the team is the best in the continent.

He told them to keep up that pride, a challenge that saw Ivorian Stars giving the president a standing ovation. Earlier on, Anoure passed a letter form President Gbagbo to President Kikwete.

He said: “The President (Gbagbo) asked me to convey his humbly gratitude to you and people of Tanzania, for inviting us to camp here. We have been impressed by the hospitality shown by the people and with very good condition that has allowed our team to concentrate and rest.

“We will ask the people of Tanzania to pray for us and we’ll come back to Tanzania by the grace of God, if we win the trophy. Though, I’ll wish to take the Cup to Ivory Coast first and then come back here to scale Mount Kilimanjaro with it,” he said.

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