NATIONAL soccer team doctor Mwanandi Mwankemwa has confirmed that Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu have both been ruled out of Tanzania's International friendly against Zambia on Saturday.
Dr Mwanandi confirmed the TP Mazembe striking duo will not be available for the match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam due to injuries. He said Samata, who has established himself as a key member of TP Mazembe, injured his shoulder when featuring for the Congolese giants and former African Champions in a league match, while Ulimwengu sustained knee injury during training.
"Samata and Ulimwengu submitted medical reports that revealed they have shoulder and knee injuries respectively and they are definitely out of Saturday's match against Zambia," Dr Mwankemwa told the 'Daily News'. The Stars physician revealed that the two former national youth players will both have MRI tomorrow (today) at Muhimbili hospital to determine the full extent of their injuries.
"They are going to remain at the camp as we want to monitor their progress. We expect to play more friendly matches in January, therefore, depending on their progress we expect them to feature in those games," he added. Already ruled out of the match is towering striker John Bocco.
The Azam hitman, who scored five goals for Mainland's Kilimanjaro Stars, during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, sustained injury during training. It means the absence of Samata and Ulimwengu has landed a huge blow to Taifa Stars technical bench ahead of the muchanticipated clash against the reigning African champions.
They were influential as Taifa Stars marched to a 1-0 win over Kenya's Harambee Stars in an international friendly staged at the CCM Kirumba in Mwanza last month. Taifa Stars assistant coach Sylvester Marsh said Monday that the TP Mazembe pair were important players for the high profile game, after they appeared to have mysteriously disappeared in thin air following a late arrival at the camp.
But Marsh remained positive as he said that should not bring fears to Tanzanians as capable replacements have already been lined up. "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 main striker. And there is Mcha Hamis who is capable of playing in the attack," Marsh said.
Football Association of Zambian (FAZ) and Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) have lined up the match to gauge the team's readiness before launching the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title defence in South Africa next year as well as provide the Tanzanian outfit a strength-testing platform. Meanwhile, Zambia arrived on Wednesday evening ready for the Saturday's clash. The team touched down at the Julius Nyerere International Airport minus Coach Herve Renard and Chipolopolo.