Tanzania are regional champs
on Sunday beat guest side Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 to win
only their third Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title.
Outstanding Shadrack Nsajigwa put in a captain’s worth slotting in a penalty in the 42nd that decided the final and sent an ecstatic host nation into wild celebration.
The jammed, 60,000 capacity stadium remained filled after the final whistle, the partisan fans seemingly reluctant to leave the scene of a triumphant campaign as fireworks added to the electrical atmosphere.
Tanzania’s other titles were won in 1974 and 1994. “This is a big win for many people. We have shown that with good organization and hard work we can beat any team. We just need to be positive,” Tanzania coach Jan Poulsen, who has been regularly criticized by the fans and local media, said.
Both teams started tentatively, more concerned with not being scored than scoring. Elephants’ Marc Dion’s tested Juma Kaseja seven minutes into the start and 10 minutes later it was the turn of Tanzania’s Sabir Stima to drive forward from midfield and unleash a rising shot tipped over for a corner by Sangare Ali.
Kaseja and Nsajigwa collided as they chased the same ball but the lurking Zoumane Kone could not take advantage of an empty net, heading wide in the 26th minute.
Without the suspended Mrisho Ngasi, Tanzania were severely handicapped in their offensive play. The home team was depleted further when midfielder Idrissa Rajab was taken off the field injured.
Cote d’Ivoire seemed to sense the hosts’ limitations but could not carve out a clear chance. Then from nothing Tanzania went into the lead after Cote d’Ivoire’s central defender Kouassi N’gorau handled the ball in the box to draw a penalty confidently slotted in by Nsajigwa.
Tanzania dropped everyone behind their half in the second half to doggedly defend the narrow lead with Nsajigwa, Kevin Yondani, Juma Said and Stefano Mwasika playing their hearts out.
Cote d’Ivoire did get their chances but Tanzania keeper Juma Kaseja stood tall to keep out Bolou Kipre’s and Tchetche Kipre with desperate dives.