Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Samata, Ulimwengu Go Awol

DR Congo-based stars Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu are yet to link up with the national soccer team, Taifa Stars camp preparing for the international friendly match against African champions Zambia.

The TP Mazembe striking duo were among 24 players called up by the team's Danish head coach, Kim Poulsen ahead for the mouth-watering clash to be staged at the 60,000-seater National Stadium in Dar es Salaam next Saturday.

But Poulsen confirmed that as of yesterday, the two young players were yet to join the Taifa Stars squad, currently training at the Karume Memorial Stadium in the city.

Poulsen said Samata and Ulimwengu jetted in the country last Wednesday from DRC after being given permission from their Congolese club to honour the national team call but have since gone missing.

The Dane revealed they have tried to reach the former national youth team players through their mobile phones but neither was responding to calls. "We have been trying to call them to know their whereabouts but the phones go unanswered and that is very strange, we assume that they don't want to play for the national team," lamented Poulsen.

Poulsen said even officials of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) have tried in vain to reach the two promising strikers. Poulsen was vividly annoyed by the duo's attitude and cautioned the players that he would only pick players who are committed and patriotic towards national team. The Danish trainer, thus, sounded a warning as he said:

"I always prefer players who feel proud to play for national team, disciplined and committed players." But he was indecisive whether he will shut the doors behind Samata and Ulimwengu, whom he has always hailed as promising players with lot of potential to turn Tanzania fortunes.

The two also failed to honour Poulsen's call to join Mainland team Kilimanjaro Stars ahead of the Senior Challenge Cup that climaxed about a week ago in Kampala Uganda. Poulsen's sentiments were echoed by his right hand man, Sylvester Marsh apparently urged the players to come out and join the camp for what he described as a 'very big match against a great team'.

"We're still unsure about Samata and Ulimwengu because they have not reported for training," remarked Marsh. "We would like to have them at least from today so that they can train with the rest of the team for the remaining few days and be ready for Saturday's match."

Marsh recalled that Samata and Ulimwengu were a pivotal part of the Taifa Stars attacks in last month's 1-0 friendly win over Kenya's Harambee Stars at the CCM Kirumba in Mwanza. "We really want them to join the squad; their teammates want them too to be part of the team," he insisted.

However, he remained adamant that Stars has a lot of quality and versatile players who can fill in should Samata and Ulimwengu fail to turn up for the Saturday match. "We have Mrisho Ngassa who has a lot of experience playing up front; we also have Amri Kiemba and Mwinyi Kazimoto, two midfield players who can play well behind the main striker.

And there is Mcha Hamis who is capable of playing in the attack." Otherwise, Marsh said the training goes on well and that they were looking forward to 'a big game' against the Chipolopolos of Zambia. "Zambia are a top team, they are champions of Africa, so we must raise our performance for this match," he warned.

Zambia won the African championship for the first time in history when Gabon and Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the tournament in January through February this year. The team would be leaving for South Africa where the Nations Cup will be held and they need to plot a title retention bid.

Their friendly in Dar es Salaam might be the last before boarding the flight to Johannesburg for title defence.

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