GOVERNMENT has rewarded Taifa Stars players plots of land in Dodoma as a motivation following the team's qualification in Africa Cup of Nations finals after a 39-year wait. Brave Taifa Stars defeated Uganda Cranes 3-0 in the last group L match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
The offer was unveiled yesterday at the State House in Dar es Salaam by President John Pombe Magufuli, one of the Tanzanians who were delighted by Taifa Stars feat, that he offered the reward to the players on behalf of the government and Tanzanians as appreciation for what the players and the team did.
Magufuli who closely followed Taifa Stars-Cranes match in Dar es Salaam and Cape Verde-Lesotho match in Praia, said the plots of land to be offered are allocated in the country's capital city Dodoma.
"I have decided to give all of you (players) this small award because you have done us proud. I am sure that if you will play the upcoming games with the same mentality, you have potential to reach far even winning the AFCON title," Magufuli said.
The President said if government has managed to provide plots to build diplomats' houses in Dodoma, there was no way to resist from doing the same to the players whom he said have put the country on the world map. Also considered in the offer are players who helped Tanzania qualify for the first time in Afcon in 1980.
Defender Leodegar Tenga and Peter Tino who scored the vital goal against Zambia in the qualifying match. President Magufuli also decorated Tanga-born pugilist Hassan Mwakinyo for doing well in the professional boxing outside the country.. Tanzania eventually picked up a ticket to the 32nd Total Africa Cup of Nations and will now be competitors during this year's event to be held in Egypt.
Simon Msuva, Erasto Nyoni and Aggrey Morris were the heroes of the nation on the day as their goals brought the much sought fortune. Simon Msuva was the first to open the goal account 12th minute when he fired home a deflected shot that easily beat Cranes giant goalie Dennis Onyango. The first half elapsed with Taifa Stars leading 1-0.
What followed after was a one sided game that turned the statistics in favour of the hosts. At the 50th minute Erasto Nyoni netted the second through a spot kick after Cranes defender handed the ball inside the box. A few minutes later Aggrey Morris header finished off Uganda Cranes and handed them heaviest defeat of the campaign. Tanzania qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals ending a 39-year wait.
Taifa Stars first played in AFCON finals in 1980 after eliminating Zambia on 3-2 aggregate win. Stars' skipper Mbwana Samatta inspired much the team's victory, his presence created confidence and fighting spirit to his teammates. Captain Samatta, Simon Msuva, John Bocco, Erasto Nyoni and Agrey Morris, Gadiel Michael and goalkeeper Aishi Manula played brilliantly on the day.
Almost a similar picture came in 1980 when Tanzania qualified after eliminating Zambia. Meanwhile, President Ali Mohamed Shein has congratulated the national team, Taifa Stars on their victory over their Uganda counterparts, the Cranes, last Sunday in Dar es Salaam.
"Warm congratulations to the players, coach, technical team, the management team, and Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) for the good work," Shein said in a statement from the State House, urging the team to work harder.
Both teams Taifa Stars and Uganda Cranes have made it to the tournament in Egypt, but Dr Shein asked the Taifa Stars to strive harder to bring this year's AFCON trophy home (United Republic of Tanzania).