15 June 2012

Tanzania: Fans Must Have Faith in Stars


JUST a month ago, most soccer fans in the country seemed to have written off Taifa Stars, apparently after struggling in various international assignments.

But in the run- up to their second leg match of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Mozambique's 'Mambas' this weekend, things look different.

Initially, the lack of faith in Taifa Stars' chances of making it to the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in South Africa was reflected in the first leg match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on February 29 in which the home side was forced to come from behind to survive with a 1-1 draw.

Fans were bitterly agitated and criticized the then head coach, Dane Jan Poulsen, for his team selection and his defensive approach despite the fact that the team was playing at home and needed nothing short of clear victory to give them advantage.

It is not clear whether Poulsen had tangible answers to such criticisms. He was shown the exit and in his place stepped in fellow Dane and namesake Kim Poulsen. Kim, hitherto with the youth teams, has shown faith in young players. He has also given them chance to play ahead of regular senior faces.

He has infused belief in his players who seem to have grasped his philosophy of possession and quick passing game. Stars' recent performances against Malawi, Ivory Coast and Gambia have revived hope among sports fans in Tanzania that the team could perform better in future.

For instance, after fighting to a barren draw against Malawi in an international friendly match some two weeks ago, fans were just too impressed.

Even after the team 2-0 defeat away to mighty Ivory Coast in the 2014 World Cup qualifier group C match away in Abidjan, the team proved to be hot prospects in the eyes of pundits and their impressive run of form was underlined last Sunday with a 2-1 victory against Gambia in the same qualifiers.

It is our hope that Taifa Stars spirit and form will hold this weekend in Maputo. It needs a little more trust on the team to continue to do better and win matches. As always, the sky is the limit.

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