27 August 2011

Tanzania: Whitecaps Release Khalfan

TAIFA Stars playmaker Nizar Khalfan is due to jet in Monday, to reinforce the national team ahead of their Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers penultimate tie against Algeria's 'Dessert Warriors'.

Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on their website on Friday that they have agreed to release the midfielder who has been called up by Stars' coach Jan Poulsen.

"Khalfan will report to his national team camp in Dar es Salaam on Monday, in preparation for important qualifying matches next weekend. With Whitecaps FC not in Major League Soccer action that weekend, Khalfan will not miss any league matches while on international duty," said the club's statement.

Since joining Whitecaps FC two seasons ago, Khalfan, has started five of his 18 league appearances for 718 minutes of action, with the midfielder also appearing in all four of Vancouver's matches during this year's Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

He has always been a shinning star for Taifa Stars, the epitome of which was his sensational 40 metres screamer against mighty Senegal, in the 2008 AFCON qualifier return leg match at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza.

The match ended in a one all draw. The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Information Office, Boniface Wambura said on Saturday that five other foreign based players -Athumani Machupa, Danny Mrwanda, Abdi Kassim, Henry Joseph and Iddrisa Rajab are also expected to arrive in the country on Monday to joint the camp that kicks off today.

He said the federation has informed the players' club's and sent return tickets to respective players. He said they expect all to respond to a call, failure of which, the TFF will take action to both the club and player(s).

Vietnamese Club DT Long An, refused to release Mrwanda and Kassim to feature for the national team in a crucial match against Central Africa Republic away in Bangui on June 5, this year. Stars lost 2-1, leaving the Dane Coach Poulsen furious at the Vietnamese club.

Taifa Stars need to avoid defeat at home to North African powerhouse Algeria in Group D on Saturday, if the East African nation is to remain in the hunt for the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.

Already Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic has named a 25-man squad for the match to be played at the National Stadium, in Dar es Salaam. The squad is dominated by foreign-based players with only four playing in Algerian league.

The local-based players are Doukha Azzeddine (USM Harrach), Metref Hocine and Saad Tedjar (JS Kabylie) and Mohamed Zemmamouche (USM Alger).

The Fennecs occupy the bottom of Group D with four points from four games same as Tanzania, and must avoid defeat to boost their chances of qualifying for the continental showpiece football event. Morocco and Central Africa Republic are joint leaders of the group with seven points apiece.

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