Poulsen rues missed opportunity

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Jan Poulsen

Taifa Stars coach Jan Poulsen

Taifa Stars head coach Jan Poulsen has admitted he faces a mammoth task of turning around his side’s fortunes in the 2013 African Nations Cup (AFCON) Qualifiers after the team managed a 1-1 draw with Mozambique in the first leg match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

Poulsen said the 1-1 results were the first part of the assignment, thus there is plenty of work to do for his side in the return leg duel, to be played in Maputo in June this year, if there are any hopes on progressing to the next stage. “This is the first half…there is still work to do in Mozambique”, he said and went on to congratulate his players for battling hard in the match.

He said Stars were slightly unsettled in the first five minutes of the match and conceded a goal thereafter but the team slowly took control of the match and got the equalizer. “We were not impressive in the first three to five minutes but then we imposed ourselves well into the game thereafter and we got the equalizer”, he said, adding that Stars could have added more goals had the team’s strikers not wasted a couple of clear chances.

Stars were forced to battle for the equalizer during the end to end duel, in which the visitors went ahead on the 22nd minute through striker, Clesio Bauque, who easily beat Stars keeper, Juma Kaseja, inside the box after capitalizing on poor defending by the hosts.

Midfielder, Mwinyi Kazimoto, eventually canceled out the Mozambicans’ lead four minutes from the breather with a well taken goal as he blasted in from 25 metres after he was set up by winger, Vincent Barnabas. Overall, Stars had an edge over their opponents in the entertaining match but the former were guilty of wasting plenty of chances and the final score eventually saw the Tanzanians squander the opportunity to stay in an advantageous position in the qualifiers.

Winger Barnabas and striker, John Bocco, wasted almost five chances between them in the first half, in which the duo disappointingly blasted wide after they were set up inside Mozambique penalty area by Stars’ midfielders, Abdi Kassim, Nizar Khalfan and Kazimoto.

It was the same story for Stars in the second half as the team, again, failed to find the back of the net despite attacking much. Bocco will, particularly, live to remember the best chance of the half, in which he was released in the Mozambique box on the 78th minute but, amazingly, managed a weak shot that was easily saved by Mozambique keeper, Joao Rafael.

Mozambique coach, Gert Engels, said he was somewhat satisfied with the results and will equally need to revamp his side’s performance ahead of the return leg duel in Maputo. “For the first 15 minutes, it was a good game for us but then our opponents slowly began taking control.

The first half was okay but I didn’t like (Mozambique’s) second half performance”, he said. “There is a lot of work to do in the return leg…we need to be more compact defensively and offensively”, added Engels and hinted that he will add about three young players to his squad in a bid to bolster its performance.

Irate domestic soccer fans, who turned up at the stadium to watch the match, remained at the venue for several minutes after he final whistle, hardly finding it hard to express their disbelief at Stars’ failure to notch a win over the Mozambicans.

A handful of fans were visibly irked by the team’s failure to exploit numerous scoring chances it had in either half, with Stars’ striker, Bocco, finding himself on the receiving end of rude remarks from the fans whenever he either lost possession or wasted scoring chances.

By JAPHETH KAZENGA, Tanzania Daily News

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