1 December 2012

Tanzania: Serengeti Boys Seek History

NATIONAL U-17 soccer team, Serengeti Boys, have their last and only opportunity to secure a berth in the U-17 African Nations Cup (AFCON) finals as they take on Congo Brazzaville in the return leg of the third round of the qualifiers at the latter's venue on Saturday.

The Tanzanians grabbed a slim 1-0 win over their opponents in the first leg match played at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam two weeks back and a draw of any margin will see the former cruise to the finals that will take place in Morocco early next year.

A first half strike by promising Serengeti Boys' midfielder, Mudathir Yahya, gave the Tanzanians the narrow advantage, which offered a glimmer of hope on their chance to make a maiden appearance in the finals.

But Serengeti Boys will certainly be in for a stiff opposition from their hosts, who are keen on overturning the first leg score line, and that stands to make the encounter a closely contested affair.

Serengeti Boys will have to opt for a zealous approach throughout the match, should they wish to overcome Congo Brazzaville, considering that the latter will have a home ground advantage and will seek to fully exploit it.

Congo Brazzaville youngsters are expected to come out firing on all cylinders in a bid to maintain their presence in the major junior continental showpiece, if the comments by the team's coach, Eddie Hudanski, are anything to go by.

Hudanski, who was visibly disappointed by his side's defeat in the first leg game, noted that slight defensive mistake by his team was reason behind the loss but promised that the youngsters will be a complete different force in the return leg.

The French tactician, who was shown red card for angrily arguing with an assistant referee later in the second half, insisted that contrary to what Tanzanian fans might have thought, his side was competent and has the ability to overcome Serengeti Boys.

Serengeti Boys will have to seek better strategies to outperform a much more physical Congo Brazzaville side, which comprises muscular players that can effectively use their physical advantage as evidenced by their displays in the first leg match.

And, Serengeti Boys' head coach, Jakob Michelsen, admitted he had never seen a much physical side like that of the Congo Brazzaville, insisting that his team will have to put everything into the return leg match, if there are any hopes of seeing off the Congolese side.

Should Serengeti Boys ultimately dispatch Congo Brazzaville out of the qualifiers, the feat will successfully help Tanzanian soccer fans erase bitter memories of their team's disqualification from the 2005 U-17 AFCON finals because of age cheating.

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