THE national soccer team Taifa Stars will be out to test Ethiopia in an international friendly clash in Addis Ababa this evening, but no Yanga player will be available for the match. Stars arrived safely in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and are staying at Hilton Hotel.
According to the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Information Officer Boniface Wambura, the team was expected to attend light training session at 5:30 on Thursday evening.
He said the match against the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) bound Ethiopia will kick off at 5:30 pm, East African time and Stars coach Dane-Kim Poulsen - will be forced to reshuffle his pecks following failure by Yanga duo, defender Kelvin Yondan and midfielder Frank Domayo to join the team in Addis Ababa as planned. Yanga spokesperson Baraka Kizuguto said in the club's website that the duo missed their flight to Addis.
Kizuguto, who is in Turkish town of Antalya, where Yanga have pitched a two-week camp said in the club website that the duo had left Antalya as planned on Wednesday to Istanbul from where they would have to connect a flight to Addis. Unfortunately, he said, they found out their tickets were booked for February 9, this year.
"They had no alternative but to return back to Antalya to re-join their club because of the dates mix up," he said. Yanga had agreed to release the two players out of five, who were included in the 22-man squad of Taifa Stars. The trio of midfielder Athumani Iddi 'Chuji,' striker Simon Msuva and defender Nadir Haroub Ally 'Cannavaro' were allowed to continue with Yanga's camp in Turkey.
This means Coach Kim has been left with a slim squad especially in the defence, where he will have no substitutes. Only Shomary Kapombe, Aggrey Morris, Erasto Nyoni and Issa Rashid are available. Stars left with only two goalkeepers Juma Kaseja and Aishi Manula.
There is wide selection in the midfield with Salum Abubakar, Khamis Mcha, Amri Kiemba, Mwinyi Kazimoto and Shabani Nditi available, while strikers are Mbwana Samatta, Thomas Ulimwengu and Mrisho Ngassa. The match will be part of the Taifa Stars's trial games ahead of the World Cup qualifier match against Morocco in March 22, while for Ethiopia, the game is their final trial before heading for the AFCON finals set to start in South Africa on January 19.
Ethiopia achieved the rare feat of conceding five goals in a qualifier and still reached the AFCON finals. Sudan scored five in Khartoum only to come off second best in the scramble for a ticket to South Africa on the away-goal rule after losing the second leg 2-0 in Addis Ababa.
Supporters of the 'Walias Antelopes' -- an endangered species found in the mountains of northern Ethiopia danced and sang late into the night in the streets of the capital to celebrate a return to the Cup of Nations. When the fearless national team walk on to the Mbombela Stadium pitch in Nelspruit on January 21 to face title holders Zambia, they will be ending a three-decade absence from the African football showcase.
Ethiopia have been drawn with Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso in Group C and the last time they played in the tournament 31 years ago they also met the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) and the Super Eagles in Libya. The Antelopes fell 3-0 to Nigeria and 1-0 to Zambia and just about every football supporter outside the Horn of African state expects similar outcomes this time, leaving the Ethiopians and the Burkinabe to fight for third place.