SPORT

by Philip Richards

Keeping the World Cup dream alive
Taifa Stars kept their hopes alive for making the World Cup 2014 finals in Brazil by delivering a classy, purposeful performance to beat Morocco 3-1 at the National Stadium on 24 March (Daily News). This puts Tanzania only a single point behind Group C leaders Ivory Coast and 4 and 5 points clear of Morocco and Gambia, all sides having played 3 games each. Coach Kim Poulsen’s team will now prepare diligently for the return game in Morocco in June and a home tie against Ivory Coast a week later, with the final game against Gambia in September. Hopefully Tanzanian Affairs will be able to report on some positive news in our next issue. In the meantime, Tanzania continues to move steadily up the FIFA rankings to 119 (out of 207).

Athletics still to fulfil potential

The podium spots for the Kilimanjaro Marathon in early March were domi­nated by Kenyan athletes. However, Tanzania rescued some pride through Zanzibari runner Sarah Ramadhani, who won the women’s half-marathon. This prompted the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Ms Fenella Mukangara, to call for local runners, and the sport regulatory body Athletics Tanzania, to up their performance and bring to an end the country’s shame of organising big events but failing to win (Daily News). The Minister also called for an improved Tanzanian performance in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland, after returning empty-handed from the London Olympics last sum­mer. On a positive note, Tanzania hopes to secure a medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland in April.

Focus on cricket
In February, Tanzania took part in the ICC Twenty20 Africa qualifiers in Kampala. Kenya and the hosts (Uganda) qualified for the next round, leaving Tanzania stranded in third place, ahead of Botswana and Nigeria. Tanzania’s Benson Nyaikini Mwiita was named player of the tournament. Cricket has an interesting history in Tanzania. The game was introduced in the late 19th century, with the earliest recorded games taking place on Zanzibar between the British community and the Royal Navy (www.tanzaniacricket. com). The existence of an official cricket association in the country dates back to 1946 when Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika joined up to form the East African Cricket Conference. Tanzania is now one of 36 associate members of the International Cricket Confederation (ICC). The national team reached Division 3 of the ICC World Cricket League in 2006 but more recently its fortunes declined and it currently sits in Division 5.

Visits by India, Pakistan and the MCC have provided exposure for the game in the country. The MCC in late 2012 played four matches against Tanzania Cricket Association XI, the MCC losing all but one of the matches against a mix of Tanzanian national squad members and talented club cricketers. The game in Tanzania is also being embraced by women, although social challenges remain a barrier, especially in retaining young players. (Thanks to David Kelly for his contribution towards this article).

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