Tanzania/Congo-Kinshasa: Stars Off to Lubumbashi to Face DRC

TAIFA Stars who eye a perfect start in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, left for Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday ahead of their match against their hosts at Stade TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi.

Taifa Stars Danish tactician Kim Poulsen, on August 19 in released a 28-man preliminary squad which pitched a camp for two crucial World Cup qualifiers matches against DR Congo and Madagascar.

Stars will face DR Congo tomorrow before taking on Madagascar on September 7th in their Group J qualifiers. Also in the group are Benin.

And according to the Tanzania Football Federation, Information and Communications Officer, Clifford Ndimbo , 23 players left left late yesterday for Lubumbashi.

However, the names of Taifa Stars squad that travelled to Congo was not unveiled, but according Ndimbo's statement, five players have been left out of 28 named in the provisional.

The provisional squad comprised goalkeepers Aishi Manula, Metacha Mnata, Ramadhan Kabwili and Wilbol Maseke.

Defenders are Shomari Kapombe, Israel Mwenda, Mohammed Hussein, Edward Manyama, Erasto Nyoni (Simba SC), Bakari Mwamnyeto (Young Africans), Kennedy Juma and Dickson Job (Yanga), Lusajo Mwaikenda, Abdulrazak Mohamed, Ayoub Lyanga (Azam) and Nickson Kibabage (Youssoufia FC, Morocco).

Midfielders :Meshack Abraham (Gwambina), Mzamiru Yassin (Simba), Feisal Salum (Young Africans), Salum Abubakari (Azam) and Zawadi Mauya (Young Africans), Abdulhamis Suleiman (Coastal Union), Novatus Dismas (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel), Iddy Nado and Mudathir Yahaya from Azam FC.

Strikers are John Bocco (Simba) and Simon Msuva (Wydad AC, Morocco) and skipper Mbwana Samatta who is plying trade with Turkish topflight league side Fenerbahce. Who the skipper is expected to join with the rest of the squad in Congo ahead of the match.

While Poulsen's Stars are looking to kick off their campaign with success, DRC team the Leopards under their Argentinian tactician, Hector Cuper, target to end the long wait of struggling to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals after becoming the first nation from Sub-Saharan Africa to play in the finals of 1974.

Congo DR failed to qualify for the 2021 CAF Africa Cup of Nations - their first absence since 2012 - and since then, under Cuper, Congo DR have recorded one draw and one defeat.

"We came to some important conclusions after our first two friendlies and we're trying very hard to make corrections," Cuper explained to FIFA.com. "The only obstacle to our ambitions is the time factor. We're working on the squad's intensity and cohesion, and we're staying focused on our upcoming opponents."

Cuper's mission now is to transform his charges into a side capable of booking a World Cup spot, a challenge that fed his eagerness to get involved.

"This country's absence from the World Cup for 47 years boosted my motivation when I accepted this job. Now, I'm making the most of being able to prepare in good conditions and I'm staying optimistic."

Despite their need to rebuild, DR Congo look to be the favourites in Group J, where they will take on Tanzania, Benin and Madagascar.

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