Mwanza — SENIOR national soccer team, Taifa Stars, edged Harambee Stars 1-0 in an international friendly match at the CCM-Kirumba Stadium here on Wednesday.
It was the first win for Taifa Stars' head coach, Kim Poulsen, since his side missed out on the third and final round of the 2013 African Nations Cup (AFCON) Qualifiers. It took Taifa Stars four minutes to register what turned out to be the winner through centre back, Aggrey Morris, who headed home to complete a corner kick by left fullback, Amir Maftah.
After a couple of attacks on either end, the hosts threatened on the 24th minute when a thunderbolt by winger, Mrisho Ngasa, went off target. Harambee Stars also managed to press upfront and forced a corner kick but a header by one of the side's defenders of the corner kick went wide.
The Kenyans then launched a quick counter attack orchestrated by strikers, Dennis Oliech and Patrick Osiako, but the final attempt was cleared by Taifa Stars defenders. Taifa Stars piled pressure on Harambee Stars goal shortly before the breather and had a penalty appeal turned down by referee, Oden Mbaga, when striker, Mbwana Samatta, appeared to have been bundled down inside the area.
The hosts led by the lone goal at half time. On resumption, Taifa Stars, which is sponsored by the Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) under its flagship Kilimanjaro Beer brand, attacked more but the team's striking force, led by Samatta, was guilty of wasting the chances.
Taifa Stars made a serious attack when Samatta, Ngasa and midfielder, Mwinyi Kazimoto, exchanged quick passes but the final attempt was blocked by Harambee Stars' keeper, Fredrick Onyango. The hosts again went close on the 49th minute, when Ngasa snatched the ball down the left and floated in a good cross but Samatta failed to bang in, despite having controlled the ball and outfoxed a Harambee Stars defender inside the area.
On the 73rd minute, Taifa Stars' defence was under pressure from their opponents' striking force, which was searching for an equalizer in earnest. Both sides' technical benches did some substitutions later in the half in a bid to revamp their respective team's performances but the substitutes did little to change the course of the match.
For Taifa Stars, whose majority of the players will probably form the Mainland soccer side, Kilimanjaro Stars, the match served as the build up for the latter ahead of the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup scheduled to take place in Uganda November 24th to December 8. The same could be said for Harambee Stars, who will also compete in the regional tournament.
The match was also among several other international friendly matches both in Africa and elsewhere taking place within the FIFA dates and, for that matter, its results was bound to affect either team's position in the world soccer governing body's ranking. Line ups:
Taifa Stars: Juma Kaseja, Shomari Kapombe, Amir Maftah/Nassor Masoud, Kelvin Yondani, Aggrey Morris, Salum Abubakar/Amri Kiemba, Mwinyi Kazimoto/Simon Msuva, Franck Domayo, Mbwana Samatta/John Bocco, Thomas Ulimwengu/Issa Rashid, Mrisho Ngasa/Shaaban Nditi.
Harambee Stars: Fredrick Onyango, Brian Mandela/Mulinge Ndeto, Eugene Asike/Christopher Wekesa, James Situma, Edwin Wafula, Jerry Santo/Anthony Akumu, Peter Opiyo, Patrick Oboya/Ayoub Timbe, Patrick Osiako/Moses Arita, Dennis Oliech, Wesley Kemboi.