Poulsen searches for first conquest

Taifa Stars meet neighbours Kenya in the first international friendly under new coach Jan Poulsen at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam this afternoon.

Poulsen, who arrived to replace Brazilian Marcio Maximo on July 31, says a brief training session less than a fortnight with unfamiliar players is not enough but he would be delighted should the home side triumph.

The Kenyans, or Harambee Stars as they are popularly known, arrived in Dar es Salaam on Monday evening with their foreign-based players.

While Dennis Oliech managed to train with team members, Internationale Milan’s McDonald Mariga was still at home to enjoy end of the season holiday ahead of Serie A kick off later this month.

Harambee Stars coach Twahir Muhuddin predicted a tough encounter today as both teams take the friendly as a yardstick to gauge their squads ahead of next month’s 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier openers.

Harambee Stars date Guinea Bissau on September 4 while Poulsen’s boys travel to Algiers for the same mission.

Poulsen says his boys are well prepared for today’s encounter despite conspicuous miss of first choice goalkeeper Juma Kaseja who has been ruled out for injury.

Only Nizar Khalfan was still pending for arrival by yesterday but the rest of the foreign based Stars’ players in the likes of Henry Joseph, Daniel Mrwanda and Idrisa Rajab joined the team training camp.

The last match between the two teams was way back in 2008 when Stars bundled out Harambee Stars in the inaugural CHAN qualifiers on 2-1 goals aggregates, Stars winning at home 2-0.

Stars’ version of Kilimanjaro was beaten by Harambee Stars during the CECAFA Challenge Cup held in Kampala in January 2009.

To exhibit how serious he is, Poulsen locked out soccer fans and media members during yesterday’s afternoon training session at the Karume Memorial Stadium.

The outcome of today’s friendly will have repercussions in FIFA World ranking as both teams hand deep in triple digit figures.

Ranking upsurge would also depend on how other teams in the rest of the world perform in midweek FIFA-sanctioned friendlies.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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