Nizar Khalfani and Kaka tussle for the ball

As part of their warm up for the World Cup, in June the Brazilian soccer team with super stars Ricardo Kaka and Robinho came to Dar for a friendly match with ‘Taifa Stars.’ Brazil won the exciting match 5 – 1. At one stage Nageri Kombo, a secondary student stormed onto the pitch and hugged Kaka. Further information had it that before dashing onto the pitch, Kombo handed over his shoes, wallet and mobile phone to a friend, aware that he would be arrested, and he was right! During the incident, Kaka remained calm as other players looked on astonished.

Some controversy surrounded the funding of the game, with some questioning whether the rumoured US$2.5m used to attract the Brazilian team could have been better spent. Finally, Minister of Sports George Mkuchika ended speculation by confirming that the Tanzanian Football Federation (TFF) had raised the money without government support.

After the match Brazilian coach Dunga commented “It was a good test for Brazil because Tanzania is a good team, very well organised.”

Tanzania have appointed a new coach for the national team, Jan Poulsen. The 64 year old Dane has had a promising start, leading the Taifa Stars to a 1-1 draw with Kenya and then a 1-1 draw with the powerful Algerian team at the start of their qualifying campaign for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations competition, a result which prompted the resignation of the Algerian coach Rabah Saadane. Tanzania last qualified in 1980.

The Twiga Stars celebrate after defeating the Ethiopian side (photo Rashid Zahor/Mohamed Rashid)

Also in the news were the women’s football team, nicknamed the “Twiga Stars” who have qualified for their first CAF Women’s Championship finals after defeating Ethiopia and Eritrea in June. The team is the subject of a documentary by Nisha Ligon entitled “Twiga Stars: Tanzania’s Soccer Sisters”. Despite a 6-0 defeat by South Africa, the team were upbeat as they started a tour of America in August as part of their preparations for the finals in October. The tour is sponsored by Tanzanian businesswoman Rahma Al-Kharoosi. Other teams that have qualified for the finals are defending champions Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Mali and South Africa.

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