TAIFA Stars head coach Kim Poulsen has challenged his players to show class, character and pride when they play former African champions Cameroon in an international friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.
Ahead of the mouth-watering fixture, Poulsen recalled that Cameroon is one of the giants of African football and have got fantastic star players who are going to give his team tough test but the Dane urged his boys to rise to the challenge. "The players know they have to perform at their very best.
There is a difference between Premier League matches and international matches... international matches are a little bit higher, a little bit fast and a little bit tricky, so we need to play fast football, quick decisions and have the right attitude," warned Poulsen.
Poulsen exuded confidence on their style of play, which insists on passing the ball: "We believe very much on ourselves, we believe on our style of play- the passing football- we believe this style can take us to new heights. We need to pass the ball, be compact and strong in defence."
The Taifa Stars coach insisted on the importance of the match as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Morocco later next month. "Playing Cameroon will help us because we're going to play against Morocco who possess the same quality," he said, adding that the match was also key for the development of the players.
He said friendlies against top quality teams like Cameroon would boost their confidence in their bid to reach the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals. "What we want to achieve is to be in the next AFCON, this is possible, but we want to play as many game as possible against these top teams," said Poulsen.
Ahead of the match, Poulsen has a clean bill of health except right full-back Masoud Nassoro 'Chollo' who has pulled out of the friendly with injury. Skipper Juma Kaseja, predicted a tough game but remained upbeat they will give Cameroon strong challenge as they did when the Indomitable Lions visited the Stars in AFCON qualifier in 2008, in which the two sides battled to a goalless draw.
"It will be tough match, but we're not scared because there will be eleven against eleven on the pitch," said the Simba shot stopper. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Cameroon head coach Jean-Paul Akono said he has a lot of respect for Taifa Stars, saying "they have a very strong team" and anticipated strong opposition from their hosts.
"Tomorrow is going to be a good test for both sides," he said adding: "You can see what is happening in African football, we don't have big teams and small teams today, the game has changed.
"This match is going to be our last before next month's World Cup qualifier and I'm very happy that this is going to give us a good test," added Akono, who was accompanied by team manager, Rigobert Song.
Cameroon's stand-in skipper Pierre Wome said they will give their all to win the friendly, which falls on FIFA date for international friendlies. "We're here for preparation but we want to get good result as well, we're going to give everything to win," the left full-back said.
He added: "We're happy to have this game because it will give us good preparations for the next qualifying game." Cameroon will play the match without skipper Samuel Eto'o and classy midfielder Alexander Song who have been dropped for the Indomitable Lions' squad due to injury.
The fabulous striker Eto'o suffered back pain, while Barcelona's midfielder Song is struggling with a knee injury. Cameroon, who missed the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, are preparing their upcoming game against Togo in World Cup qualifier set to be played next March.
Meanwhile, Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Brand Manager, George Kavishe, called on Tanzanians to flock at the venue in big numbers today to support Taifa Stars. "This is a big match, regardless of its friendly nature, it is a match of similar magnitude with the last month's friendly when Stars beat the former Africans Champions, Zambia. The atmosphere was electrifying and fans' support helped the home team to win," said Kavishe.