Great celebrations surrounded an historic win by Tanzanian football team (Taifa Stars) defeating Burkina Faso 2-1 in their opening qualification game for the African Nations Cup 2008.

Burkina Faso and Taifa StarsBurkina Faso and Tanzanian players before the game, in front of the new National Stadium currently under construction (photo Issah Michuzi)

football.jpgMizal Khalfan scores the winning goal

The Taifa Stars, who have not qualified for the finals since 1980 and indeed had not won a competitive international match in 9 years, went ahead after 23 minutes when Burkina Faso’s Paul Coulibaly turned the ball into his own net. The Stallions struck back just before half-time, Abdoulaye Cisse finding the net in the 39th minute. But Mizal Khalfan put the home side back in front on the 65th minute, and his team were able to hold on.

Much was made of the input from the new Brazilian coach Marcio Maximo, and the personal involvement of Jakaya Kikwete who met with the team on several occasions to motivate them prior to the match.

Tanzania’s next game away to Mozambique on 8th October ended in a 0-0 draw, but still left them at the top of their qualification group. However, they next face the daunting prospect of meeting Senegal in Dakar in March 2007. After the remaining four fixtures the qualifiers
will be determined in September 2007. The 12 group winners and the best three runners-up will join the Ghanaian team in the finals in Ghana in Jan-Feb 2008.

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