AFCON 2024: Can Taifa Stars of Tanzania breaks 44 years of AFCON wilderness

Posted : 10 January 2024

Interestingly, the Taifa Stars of Tanzania made their debut in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 1980, the same year Nigeria hosted the event and won it; however, they have yet to make a significant impression, failing to advance past the group stage on both occasions.


After the cameo appearance in the 1980 AFCON, the Taifa Stars went into a 40-year hiatus from the competition. They eventually qualified for the 2019 edition in Egypt but failed to progress beyond the group stage.


During this 40-year wait, Tanzania had no success in major competitions and struggled in African and World Cup qualifiers. Their best effort came in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification, finishing three points behind group winners Senegal.


Unexpectedly, in 2010, Tanzania won the CECAFA Cup for the third time, and their most recent achievement was a 1–0 win against South Africa in the 2017 COSAFA Cup Quarter-finals. Despite losing in the semi-finals, they secured third place in COSAFA, marking Tanzania's biggest football achievement in many years.


In their second AFCON appearance, Taifa Stars defeated Uganda 3–0, reaching the finals for the first time in 39 years. However, they proved to be the weakest team, losing all three Group C matches.


While Tanzania excels at the club level, with Simba and Yanga impressing on the continent, the national team faces challenges. The investment in football is starting to pay off, with a second AFCON qualification in four years.


The Taifa Stars heavily rely on their top player, Mbwana Ally Samatta, who plays for PAOK in Greece. Samatta, with more AFCON appearances than most, is three goals away from the all-time scoring record.


The coach has named a strong squad for AFCON 2024, including goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. Despite being considered outsiders, the Taifa Stars aim to prove doubters wrong in Group F, facing tournament favorites Morocco, Zambia, and DR Congo.

 

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