THE national soccer team Taifa Stars went down 2-1 against hosts Ethiopia in an international friendly match played at the National Stadium in Addis Ababa on Friday evening. According to the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Information Officer, Boniface Wambura, it was an end to end affair right from the kick off as both sides sought early goals.
Stars went down just after 13 minutes but TP Mazembe striker Mbwana Samatta cancelled the hosts' lead with a fine strike in the 50th minute. However, Stars who were struggling with chilly weather condition conceded the second goal in the 63th minute. However, Wambura who accompanied the team said Stars failed to cope with high altitude in Addis Ababa, but still gave the host a difficult evening.
The match was 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 was their final trial before heading for the AFCON finals set to start in South Africa next Saturday. It was the second trial for Stars in the past one month. Kim Poulsen side beat African champions Zambia 'Chipolopolo' 1-0 in another friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam late last month.
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.
Another AFCON bound side Burkina Faso have also lined up a friendly against the national soccer team Taifa Stars to be played in South Africa on Monday. According to 'planetsport.com', Burkina Faso, well known as Les Etalons will be involved in two friendly games in South Africa, prior to the start of the continental championship. The West African side took part in both the 2010 and 2012 AFCON tournaments, but failed to go past the first round. Burkina Faso, who are based in Nelspruit, will play Nigeria, defending champions Zambia and Ethiopia in Group C.