Tanzania coach Kim Poulsen Thursday evening urged football authorities to reschedule the international friendly between his team and their hosts, Kenya’s Harambee Stars.
He spoke at a press briefing in Nairobi on the day the second build-up match between the Kenya and Tanzania national teams at the Nyayo National Stadium was called off at the eleventh hour in honour of fallen Tanzania President John Magufuli who died on Wednesday night.
Kenya beat Tanzania 2-1 at the Nyayo National Stadium on Monday in the first of two friendlies lined up between the neighbours.
Eric Kapaito and Abdalla Hassan scored for the hosts while Ayub Lyanga scored Tanzania’s consolation goal.
“I am new in this job and I’ve been trying to understand my players. This match is useful to our preparations and I hope we can get to play Kenya again before we face Equatorial Guinea (on March 25),” said Poulsen.
Taifa Stars players in Nairobi were barred from speaking to the Kenyan media with team representative Aaron Nyanda citing the “sensitivity” of the matter regarding President Magufuli’s demise.
“We do not even know what is happening other than what our Vice-President (Samia Suluhu when announcing the death) said. It is a sensitive matter and some of the players are confused. The media may take some of our statements out of context,” he said.
Poulsen added that he hoped his players will be motivated to qualify for the 2021 Africa Nations Cup in Cameroon in honour of the fallen Head of State.
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Tanzania are currently ranked third in their qualification group with four points from as many games and must win their remaining two matches away to Equatorial Guinea and at home to Libya to stand a chance at qualification.
“The information (of the President’s death) shocked everyone in camp and we’ve had to suspend training for today.
“We will go for a walk to ease out and plan for tomorrow. It will be good to qualify for the continental championship for a successive time in honour of the President,” the coach pointed out.
The Tanzanian squad in Nairobi was bolstered by the arrival of nine Simba SC players including talisman John Bocco, who featured in their club’s 3-0 win over Sudan’s El Merreikh in Tuesday’s Caf Champions League clash in Dar-es-Salaam.
Other arrivals include goalkeeper Aisha Manula, Shomari Kapombe, Muzamiru Yasin, Jonas Mkude, Erasto Nyoni and Kennedy Dilunga.
The foreign-based legion, including Aston Villa’s Mbwana Samatta, who currently is on loan at Fenerbeche in Turkey, Himid Mao (ENPPI, Egypt), Thomas Ulimwengu (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), and Simon Msuva (Wydad Casablanca, Morocco) are expected in Nairobi from Monday.
The two teams are preparing for the remaining 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches.
Kenya will face Egypt and Togo in Nairobi and Lome respectively on March 25 and 29. Tanzania will, meanwhile, fly directly to Equatorial Guinea from Nairobi aboard a chartered flight on Tuesday ahead of the clash with their hosts in Malabo.