Holders Kilimanjaro Stars get down to business as they host eleven-time winners Uganda in the second Tusker Challenge Cup semifinal at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam this evening.
It will be the replica of last year’s semifinal clash of the same tournament, yet at the same venue and same time.
Uganda lost the previous edition’s semifinal and were dethroned the title as their 19-match Challenge Cup unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt.
The two teams are old foes who know each other pretty well since the tournament was inaugurated in 1973.
The Mainland Tanzania (Tanganyika) team had a rough passage into the semifinal as they qualified from the group stage at the skin of their teeth, winning just one match and cashed on best loser’s ticket.
Stars victory over Malawi during the quarterfinal came as surprise to most of the home fans who had already lost hope for their side that stumbled at the preliminaries.
Both teams have conceded defeats at the group stage. While Uganda banks on their football prowess, holders Mainland are buoyed by the support from the home fans.
However, matches are not decided on the number of fans cheering at the stands but rather footwork on the field.
The home team has a huge burden to meet the satisfaction of their fans as Tanganyika celebrates the 50 anniversary of its independence tomorrow.
Winning the semifinal as well as retaining the title is a dream of the home fans, team and even the Government.
However, victory will only be achieved through hard work and beating Uganda, the highest ranked team in the FIFA standings, is certainly a tall order.
If the performance of the teams is judged by their previous performance in the championship, then the holders are really in trouble to cross the semifinal barrier.
Uganda have been sharp in striking, well coordinated midfield as well as water-tight defence.
So far, Uganda have conceded paltry two goals while scoring seven in four matches while their semifinal opponents have conceded three and scored five in as many matches.
Whether it will be a match to be concluded within 90 minutes or extend into extra time it remains to be seen.
Uganda have been vulnerable at the hands of the Mainland team when the game extends into penalty shootouts.
The other side of the coin shows that Mainland Tanzania have been finding it difficult to come from behind once it concedes a goal whenever playing Uganda in the Challenge Cup.