The 31 strong Tanzanian team returned from the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October dispirited having won no medals. After the boxing team failed to achieve any medals, hopes were high that marathon runners Restituta Joseph, Patrick Nyangero and the Melbourne Games gold medallist, Samson Ramadhan would save the day, but in the end all disappointed. It was the first time in over forty years that Tanzania failed to win any medals at the Commonwealth Games.
The Tanzanian performance was in stark contrast to the Kenyan team which won 32 medals, including 12 golds, and finished as the 6th placed country overall. As well as dominating the long distance running events as expected, Kenyan athletes also featured strongly in the middle distance events, winning gold, silver and bronze in the men’s 800m and gold in the men’s 400m race.
The Tanzanian women’s football team, the Twiga Stars, also dissapointed some in losing all their three matches at the CAF African Women Championships, although this was the team’s first appearance at the event, and they managed to avoid being embarrased by the much more experienced teams from South Africa, Mali and Nigeria.
The men’s team made a good start to their Cup of African Nations campaign by forcing a draw with 2010 World Cup qualifiers Algeria, but a blunt strike force barely threatened Morocco when losing 1-0 in Dar es Salaam in October. This now leaves them in third place in their group, with qualification looking unlikely.
However, consolation came in December with victory in the CECAFA (Council of East and Central Africa Football Association) Challenge Cup, which is the first trophy the national team has won in 16 years. Tanzania were the hosts for the 16-day tournament, and lost their opening match 1-0 to Zambia. However, they bounced back to defeat Somalia and Burundi and reach the knockout phase where the penalty-taking skills of captain Shadrack Nsajigwa proved crucial. He converted the spot kick that eliminated Rwanda, contributed to a penalty shootout victory over Uganda after a goalless semi-final, and calmly scored again from the spot on 42 minutes to settle the final. The opposing team in the final was a Côte d’Ivoire team consisting of home-based stars as one of three ‘guest’ teams.
“After a lot of criticism, Tanzania proved worthy champions. The team started slowly but improved with each game,” said the 64-year-old Danish coach Jan Poulson.