Magufuli: We can beat Kenya

Thursday June 27 2019

Tanzania's midfielder Himid Mao attends a press conference at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on June 26, 2019, on the eve of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match against Kenya. PHOTO | SAMER ABDALLAH |

Tanzania's midfielder Himid Mao attends a press conference at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on June 26, 2019, on the eve of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match against Kenya. PHOTO | SAMER ABDALLAH |  AFP

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Leo hakuna kulala! (There’s no sleeping in Dar es Salaam tonight!)

From 11pm Thursday night, Tanzania’s Taifa Stars will clash with neighbours, Kenya’s Harambee Stars, in an explosive Group ‘C’ battle at the Africa Cup of Nations.

On Tuesday, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli urged football stakeholders in the country to support “Taifa Stars”, saying they were capable of defeating Kenya and Algeria in the remaining matches.

“We all target victory and we call upon the players not to be discouraged, I give them my support,” the president said. “Let’s give the Taifa Stars players moral support. We need to encourage the players in the competition, despite losing to the number one team on the African continent.”

Both teams take to the field with terrible memories from their opening group games, Kenya having been beaten 2-0 by Algeria and Tanzania having fallen on a similar score-line to Senegal. These results signal that both teams are hungry for points.

Dar es Salaam’s regional commissioner, Paul Makonda, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to motivate “Taifa Stars” and was received by Tanzania’s ambassador to Cairo Mohammed Nassoro and Tanzania Football Federation president Wallace Karia.

“I was hurt by the result of our first match, but I was hurt more by people who criticized our players who have brought us to Afcon for the first time in 30 years,” he said.

Tanzania, under coach Emmanuel Amunike, have vowed to slay their neighbours with the biggest responsibility for this resting on the shoulders of Mbwana Samatta who turns out for Belgian club Genk. Amunike says all departments are ready and he’s eager to bag the three points.

It’s clear that both teams badly need a win, especially going by their last 10 matches that put the two teams almost at par, making Wednesday night’s match at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo difficult to predict.

The teams’ attacking and defending statistics are almost identical, with Kenyan strikers having scored 11 times in their last 10 games, the same as their Tanzanian rivals, while, defensively, Kenya and Tanzania have both conceded seven goals in these outings, not including the goals conceded in Cairo.


Of their last 10 internationals, Kenya have won five, drawn twice and lost three times to India (0-3 and 0-2) and Ghana (0-1).

They have beaten China (4-0), Ghana (1-0), Malawi (1-0), Ethiopia (3-0) and Madagascar (1-0), drawing 1-1 with D.R. Congo and goalless with Ethiopia.

On the other hand, Tanzania have won four times, lost thrice and drawn three times (1-1 against Zimbabwe, 1-1 against Benin and goalless against Uganda).

The “Taifa Stars” have defeated Cape Verde 2-0, Uganda 3-0, D.R. Congo 2-0, Malawi 2-0 while losing 0-3 to Cape Verde, 0-1 to Lesotho and 0-1 to Egypt.

While statistics show Tanzania have the ability to score in either half, the team’s defence has conceded more goals in the second half. They conceded in three goals in the 64th, 76th and 85th minutes and two in the 16th and 23rd minutes.

In the last 10 games, Kenya, meanwhile, conceded more goals in the second half. Of the seven goals they let in, five were in the second half (68th, 90+1, 71st, 82nd and 87th) and two in the first half, in the 8th and 29th.

Kenyan strikers are more productive in the second half. Of the 11 goals scored in the last 10 matches, seven were in the second half and four in the first, with three of Kenya’s goals scored from the penalty spot, two of which were netted by Wanyama in the second half. Kenya’s second-half goals have come in the 52nd, 54th, 89th, 69th, 78th, 67th na 64th and first-half strikes in the 40th, 23rd, 27th and 25th.