TANZANIA unveiled the 2019 Under-17 Africa's Cup of Nations (AFCON) official mascot, at a short ceremony in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Harrison Mwakyembe has unveiled the official mascot, signifying that Tanzania is 100 per cent ready to host the 13th edition of the tournament this April.
Blended with the country's tourism natural attractions such as Mount Kilimanjaro and nature, the mascot also carries with it an antipoaching campaign, in which, Rhino's horn and elephant's tusks are on display.
Minister Mwakyembe was told by the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) official, Aaron Nyanda that the mascot also contains the Confederation of African Football (CAF) symbols.
In his gesture Mwakyembe said, the mascot was rich in nature, symbolising unity, harmony and courage. However, Minister Mwakyembe advised that more adjustments could be made to improve the mascot even further.
The Minister thanked President John Magufuli, for approving the tournament to be staged in the country, saying the government will continue to put its own weight to make sure that the finals to be staged in the country for the first time in history will be a success.
Aside the launch of the tournament mascot, Tanzania is also in the process of launching the official song of the biennial tournament. "We are sure, with close cooperation from TFF and CAF, the finals will be staged successfully," said Minister Mwakyembe.
Minister Mwakyembe, who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), picked to oversee the smooth organization of the tournament, said they have been working tirelessly, to address the recommendations by CAF on improving the venues that will host the event.
He issued a rallying cry for Tanzanians to turn up in huge numbers to support Serengeti Boys and the tournament at large and prove to the rest of the world that Tanzania was capable of hosting even bigger tournaments.
He also said that Serengeti Boys are ready to win the tournament and will go all the way to qualify for the World Cup in Peru this October.
In efforts to create much needed hype among football fans across the country going to the finals, minister Mwakyembe ordered the TFF to organise a special match pitting the current crop of Serengeti Boys players and those who represented Tanzania in the 2017 Under-finals finals in Gabon.
Serengeti Boys is in camp preparing for the finals and to sharpen up for the finals, Serengeti Boys will compete in a special tournament dubbed UEFA Assist slated on March 1st to 9th in Turkey.
Mwakyembe said his ministry was making effort to ensure that the team's camp in Europe is extended after the tournament. Then in late March, the team will be back and travel to Rwanda for another tournament.
"I'm sure by then, Serengeti Boys will be ready for the opening group A match against Nigeria on April 14th at the National Stadium," he said.
Hosts Serengeti Boys have been zoned in group A alongside Nigeria christened .
The Golden Eaglets, Angola and debutants Uganda in the preliminary round of the finals. Teams in group B are Guinea, Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal.
The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Peru as the CAF representatives.
Chairman of the National Sports Council, who is also the Vice- Chairman of LOC, Leodeger Tenga said; "Tanzania is hosting this youth's tournament for the first time.
It is a show of the president's belief in greater youth empowerment and we are doing this to demonstrate to the young boys that we care about them."