Taifa Stars gauged themselves well with a friendly against Kenya’s Harambee Stars and national team head coach Charles Mkwasa believes that his team will pick lessons to the match against Egypt on Saturday.
Tanzania, who sit bottom of group G of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with a point, will entertain the Pharaohs at the National Stadium, hoping to kick-start their finals dream.
“We have learnt a very good lesson and I think our players (though some of them just had their debuts in the national team) did their best to secure the 1-1 result,” Mkwasa told The Citizen via telephone.
He added: “We have a tough match against Egypt and the game against Kenya gave us a glimpse of arrears we need to improve on. Egypt will be coming for a draw but we will be out for a win.”
Elias Maguli scored for Taifa Stars before Harambee Stars captain and Southampton FC midfielder Victor Wanyama levelled. The two neighbouring nations played out a one-all draw.
Mkwasa thanked the Kenyan federation, FKF, for the friendly invite terming it a huge test ahead of the Egypt’s make-or-break match.
“I thank the Football Kenya Federation [FKF] for inviting us for this friendly match. It was really interesting to play against an experienced side [Kenya] especially now that we are set to face Egypt in the AFCON 2017 qualifications,” he said.
Stars were whacked 3-0 by Egypt in 2015 and the match in Dar es Salaam is expected to be quite challenging in a week when Kenya will also be hosting Congo in a similar tournament.
Mkwasa disclosed that Stars captain and KRC Genk forward Mbwana Samatta will link up with teammates on Thursday, barely 48 hours before leading the teams against the five-time African champions.
“What I know is that Samatta will join the team on Thursday while Ulimwengu (Thomas) will link up with teammates a day earlier,” he said. “We will have a full strength team against Egypt because we have good news that striker John Bocco has also shaken off his injury and will be available for selection.”
The Azam stalwart captain sustained an injury during his team’s 3-1 loss to Young Africans in a Federation Cup final at the National Stadium last Wednesday. TFF secretary general Mwesigwa Celestine confirmed that Samatta will jet into the country two days before the Afcon match while Ulimwengu will start training tomorrow.
“I can confirm that the duo will join the team this week. Ulimwengu will be in town tomorrow while Samatta will join the squad on Thursday. Bocco has also recovered from his minor injury, so we hope to have our best team on the pitch against Egypt,” he said.
According to Fifa’s ranking published on May 5, Harambee Stars were ranked at position 116, 13 places above Tanzania.
The friendly match between the two sides played may however not affect the rankings since it was played outside FIFA’s official friendly matches’ calendar.
Source: The Citizen