20 November 2012

Tanzania: Guarded Optimism from U-17 Coach

SERENGETI Boys' head coach, Jakob Michelsen, has expressed pride in the resilience that his side showcased against Congo Brazzaville in the first leg of the third and final round of the 2013 U-17 AFCON Qualifiers and warned that there is still plenty to do for the former in the return leg.

The Tanzanians chalked up a slim 1-0 win over the Congolese in an entertaining match played at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday to garner a slight advantage ahead of the return leg match that will take place in Brazzaville after the next two weeks.

But the hosts were forced into a spirited performance particularly in the second half to hold off the determined Congo Brazzaville that put a strong performance and missed a host of scoring chances in the process. "I'm proud of the performance of my boys.

It was very important for us to get the win and I'm happy we showed character against the very strong Congolese side," said Michelsen. The Danish tactician, though, was wary of the Congo Brazzaville quality and admitted that Serengeti Boys still have a tough task in the away return leg match, which means the Tanzanians will have to put extra effort to see off the Congolese.

"I have never seen such a great performance by a junior team like the one shown by the Congolese side. This game has two legs, so, we still have plenty to do in the return leg," he said. The visitors, comprising a host of towering, muscular youngsters, had a physical advantage over Serengeti Boys and the former attacked almost at will in the second half, seeking to overturn the score line but a resilient Serengeti Boys' defense thwarted the attacks.

And Congo Brazzaville head coach, Eddie Hudanski, was slightly disappointed with the match's outcome although his team had an upper hand for much of the second half and the French tactician promised that his team will come out firing on all cylinders in the return leg match.

"Contrary to what the fans might have thought, my team is okay. The game was fast throughout and lack of concentration in the (Congo Brazzaville) back line was the reason behind the defeat," he said. "I hope we will win the return leg match because I believe my team is strong", he added.

The seemingly outspoken coach also played down the incident that happened during the closing stages of the match, in which he was sent off by the match's referee for shouting at an assistant referee.

Hudanski had earlier been warned by the referee after the former had twice left the touch line and angrily barked at the assistant referee in expression of disagreement with some of the decisions and when the French tactician attempted to vent his frustration to the assistant referee for the third time, he got the marching order amid boos from the home fans.

The coach said what happened between him and the assistant referee was a normal issue in soccer and he had no problem with the sending off. Despite being on the defensive for the better part of the second half, Serengeti Boys will have to blame themselves for coming out with the narrow advantage considering that the team wasted several good chances, which could have otherwise seen the team command a bigger win.

The best of the home side's chances came just a minute before the final whistle when substitute, Dickson Ambunda, failed to tap into the yawning net a well measured low cross by Selemani Bofu from the left, after Serengeti Boys had launched a quick counter attack.

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