TWO years ago, Tanzanians found themselves smiling, cheering and celebrating, after Mainland's Kilimanjaro Stars ended their 16 years jinx to win the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup 2010.
The Mainland outfit beat guest side Ivory Coast 1-0 in the final match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam to lift the trophy. It was a real carnival as the 60,000 or so fans who flocked the stadium to witness the match literally went home with sore throats after cheering so loudly as the Stars shone and twinkled for them that beautiful afternoon.
Definitely, Kilimanjaro Stars victory lifted the country's soccer morale and the players made for themselves a big name in the region and the rest of the world. The Stars' victory was the moment the country had long waited. It was a great achievement that brought honour to our nation.
No wonder all Tanzanians celebrated the victory in a big way. Defending the trophy last year was the first objective but such efforts did not pay off as the Cranes from Uganda lifted the trophy at the same venue. As this year's tournament kicks off in Kampala, Uganda, on Saturday Tanzanians are expecting nothing but success from their team, Kilimanjaro Stars and Zanzibar Heroes. It's yet another opportunity for Kilimanjaro Stars to redeem themselves because this will prove that winning the 2010 trophy was not a fluke.
Zanzibar Heroes also have a chance to impress because they have assembled a strong squad capable of making big strides in the annual regional event. It should be remembered that CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup remains the oldest competition in Africa and winning top honours will be remarkable for the country.
The profile of competitions in the CECAFA region has risen because of the competitive nature in the events and the improvements in quality which has partly been contributed by constant invitation of guest teams. We hope that the whole nation will remain behind our teams to encourage players and officials perform better.
Everyone knows that we still have a long way to go in order to build football supremacy in the region and Africa as a whole. Players should continue to look ahead on the coming matches and continue making the country happy.