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AFCON 2023: Taifa Stars' journey at AFCON 2023 set to end with Leopards of DR Congo's test

Posted : 23 January 2024

With the audacious move to sack their manager, Adel Amrouche, right in the midst of hostilities in Cote d'Ivoire at the ongoing 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the Taifa Stars of Tanzania look like a directionless ship on the waves of the ocean in the tournament.

Although the team's coach, Adel Amrouche, has received an eight-match ban from CAF after comments he made after their 3-0 loss to the Atlas Lions of Morocco in their opening match, the country should have waited for the dust to settle over the matter before announcing their decision.

However, Hemed Morocco took interim charge of their 1-1 draw with Zambia on Sunday afternoon, and now, the team faces an uphill task against a formidable Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo side that were held by the Chipolopolo of Zambia, too, but managed a 1-1 draw against the Atlas Lions of Morocco.

For DR Congo, they are potent in attacks, and they also possess a double chance to progress against the manager-less opposition, Taifa Stars of Tanzania.

To make matters worse, Tanzania has a couple of minor injury concerns for their final game in the group stages. Defender Haji Mnoga was forced off at half-time against Zambia the other day, while Feisal Selum is also potentially unavailable.

However, many pundits have tipped the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo to make changes, especially as Henock Inonga was forced off at half-time and replaced by Dylan Batubinsika. Cedric Bakambu, after missing a penalty the other day, was also taken off relatively early in that game against Morocco.

So, a place in the knockout stages of the AFCON is on the line as Tanzania faces Congo DR at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.

With simultaneous kick-offs across Group F, the Leopards, on two points from their first two games, eye a win to stay in the driver's seat, while the Taifa Stars face elimination if they fall short of a win.

Dismissed as Group F's whipping boys before the tournament, the Taifa Stars of Tanzania defied expectations and find themselves still in contention for a knockout berth heading into their final match.

Though their opening game was a chastening 3-0 drubbing by the Atlas Lions of Morocco, a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the Chipolopolo of Zambia kept them within touching distance of the other group contenders.

Simon Msuva's opportunism after a swift turnover gave Adel Amrouche's men the early lead, but Patson Daka's powerful header two minutes from time for Zambia left Tanzania to settle for a share of the spoils.

AFCON history has yet to witness a Taifa Stars of Tanzanian victory, with six defeats and two draws in their eight matches across three editions, including the current one. However, a historic win against the Leopards of DR Congo on Wednesday would present a golden opportunity to break that duck and reach the knockout stage for the first time.

This would not be uncharted territory for Taifa Stars of Tanzania against their opponents, having enjoyed two wins, two draws, and two defeats in their six previous encounters. The stars could finally align for the Taifa Stars as they chase a place in the AFCON knockout stages.

The Leopards came into this competition as the second favorite to qualify from this group behind Morocco, and they would likely have been fairly disappointed with only taking one point from Zambia in their first match.

However, the reverse was true against the Atlas Lions of Morocco, as Sebastian Desabre's men will be content with snatching a point against arguably the tournament's most formidable side.

Morocco's Achraf Hakimi got his side off to a flying start with an opening goal in the sixth minute, but Silas Katompa Mvumpa of Congo DR snatched a deserved equalizer in the 76th minute. Earlier, Cedric Bakambu had spurned a golden opportunity for the Leopards when his first-half penalty struck the woodwork.

The Leopards of Congo DR's firepower, especially considering Tanzania's struggles to keep opponents at bay, could well be the difference at the end of the game. As a result, the Taifa Stars might find themselves outgunned by the Leopards given the immense importance of this clash.


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