16 November 2012

Tanzania/Kenya: Kenya Cry Foul Over Ref Choice

THE Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) has been slammed for flouting the world governing body rules by appointing a home referee for Wednesday's international friendly match between the national soccer team, Taifa Stars and their Kenyan counterparts, Harambee Stars.

Taifa Stars edged past the Harambee Stars courtesy of a solitary goal by centre-back Aggrey Morris, who headed home to complete a corner kick by left fullback, Amir Maftah in a thrilling encounter at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza.

The Kenyan national team's contingent however, took issue with the TFF after they failed to honour FIFA's requirement of using neutral officials for international friendly matches. Kenya skipper and AJ Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech asserted that the Harambee Stars could have performed much better had the match been handled by 'neutral' referees and match commissioner.

"This match involves Kenya against Tanzania, yet it's a Tanzanian referee officiating. We had several instances (during the game) where we felt hard done by. After the match several (Kenyan) players were complaining. Next time the federation should address this (a 'neutral' referee)," Oliech lamented at the end of the game. Oliech, however, acknowledged that a defensive blunder in the early minutes of the game cost the Harambee Stars.

He said: "Lack of concentration in the early stages of the match and a defensive mistake led to the goal. We were in dominance in the entire match and played better than our opponents and to me it's not about the loss but the development of the team." Wednesday's win was the first for Taifa Stars' head coach, Kim Poulsen, since his side crashed out of the 2013 African Nations Cup (AFCON) qualifiers.

And Poulsen lauded Taifa Stars' winning display as he said: "It is a good result against a team that has very good players like Kenya. We played well and dominated proceedings from the word go. The good thing is that we got an early goal to get us going. "They (Kenya) improved in the second half but we were the better team and deserved to win the game.

I am happy", he said in a radio interview after the match. Poulsen was pleased with how the team played as a unit despite having spent little time together: "They have been in camp for just a few days, but they played as a team. I am very happy with the way they played on Friday."

Poulsen's sentiment was echoed by Stars captain Juma Kaseja who said: "The team played very well, despite two days of training." Kaseja conceded that the game was tough and was thankfully to win the game after they braved a second half onslaught to hold on to their early lead and significantly keep a clean sheet against Oliech and co. Wednesday's result has increased the chances of Tanzania improve her position in the next release of FIFA World rankings.

On the other end, the defeat is likely to up the pressure on Kenyan coach Henri Michel who posted a second consecutive defeat since taking over. For Poulsen the match served as the build up for the Mainland national soccer team, Kilimanjaro Stars, ahead of the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda later this month, as most of the Taifa Stars players are expected to transmute into the Mainland side. The same could be said for Harambee Stars, who will also compete in the regional tournament.

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