Tanzania’s Taifa Stars will on Saturday, September 5 lock horns with West African soccer powerhouse Nigeria in the AFCON 2017 qualifier match at the National Stadium in Dar Es Salaam.
The match will the first between the two sides in thirty five years – they last faced each other in 1980 in the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifier in which Stars held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in Lagos before losing 2-0 in the reverse fixture two weeks later in Dar.
Tanzania has not beaten Nigeria since their first ever meeting in a friendly match in 1972 which ended in a barren draw, and little or no change is expected when they battle this weekend.
While the three times African champions Nigeria boasts of a galaxy of stars who ply their trade in top European leagues like Ahmed Musa of CSKA Moscow of Russia and Joel Obi of Torino FC in Italy, the same cannot be said about their Saturday opponent who will rely heavily on home based pros.
Not to pour cold water on Stars’ chances, the Coach Boniface Mkwasa charges have had a proper training heading into this clash, they had a one week intensive training camp in Turkey where they played a high profile friendly against Libya in which they lost 2-1 before returning home this week.
The camp gave them the much needed confidence ahead of this match and bullish Mkwasa was quoted saying he is ready for Nigeria.
The Eagles on the other hand have been camping in Abuja – they beat Abuja Football College 2-0 in a build up match played on Wednesday 2, at Abuja National Stadium. Emmanuel Emanike netted the first before Anthony Ujah added the second.
New Coach Sunday Oliseh will be under pressure to make an impression on his first competitive outing with Eagles. He took over the reigns from Stephen Keshi who started the campaign on a high with a 2-0 win over Chad in their opening match of group “G”, a trend he would like to keep.
Oliseh will make do without his captain Vincent Enyeama who ruled himself out of the trip and in his place new entrant Carl Ikeme is expected to man the goal post.
Azam skipper John Bocco is likely to lead the assault for Stars, assisted by TP Mazembe duo of Thomas Ulimwengu and Mbwana Samatta. In goal Aisha Manula of Azam could pick up the number one jersey if he regains fitness in time.
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