NATIONAL soccer team, Taifa Stars head coach, Salum Mayanga has excluded skipper Mbwana Samatta in the 22 strongman squad unveiled yesterday for the 2017 COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup to be staged from June 25 to July 9 in South Africa.
Mayanga turns his focus to the forthcoming Southern Africa regional showpiece, where Taifa Stars will be taking part as a guest nation from East Africa.
Mayanga has made few changes to previous squad he summoned for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Lesotho played over the weekend at Azam Complex, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
He has dropped injured left back Mohammed Hussein and recovering midfielder Jonas Mkude, recalling striker Elius Maguli, who is currently plying his trade with Oman side Dhofar Sc and has also included several new faces.
The new face included by coach Mayanga in the squad are Salmin Hoza from Mbao FC, Amim Abdulkarim (Toto Africans ), Shabani Idd (Azam FC), Stamili Mbonde (Mtibwa Sugar), Raphael Daudi (Mbeya City) and Nurdin Chona from Tanzania Prisons.
The full squad named for the COSAFA Cup tournament comprises goalkeepers: Aishi Manula (Azam FC), Benno Kakolanya (Young Africans ) and Said Mohammed from Mtibwa Sugar FC while right backs are Shomari Kapombe (Azam FC), Hassan Ramadhan (Young Africans) and left backs are Gadiel Michael (Azam FC) and Amim Abdulkarim from Toto Africans FC.
Central defenders are Erasto Nyoni (Azam FC), Salim Mbonde (Mtibwa Sugar), Abdi Banda (Simba SC) and Nurdin Chona (Tanzania Prisons) and holding midfielders are Himid Mao (Azam FC) and Salmin Hoza (Mbao FC) while attacking midfielders are Mzamiru Yassin (Simba), Simon Msuva (Young Africans), Raphael Daudi (Mbeya City) and Shizza Kichuya (Simba SC).
Strikers are Thomas Emmanuel Ulimwengu (AFC Eskilstuna – Sweden), Mbaraka Yusuf (Kagera Sugar), Stamili Mbonde (Mtibwa Sugar), Elius Maguli (Dhofar Sc) and Shabani Idd from Azam FC.
According to the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Media and Communication Officer, Alfred Lucas, the residential camp will start this Sunday in Dar es Salaam before travelling to South Africa on June 20 in time to take part in the tournament.
COSAFA Cup tournament will serve as an immediate preparation ground for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers. The Stars have been drawn against Rwanda in the second round of the 2018 CHAN qualifiers for Central and East Zone.
The first leg is scheduled to be played on the weekend of July 14-16 in Dar es Salaam before return leg in Kigali a week later. Tanzania will be competing in COSAFA Cup for the third time after 1997 and 2015, with Comoros Islands having declined to take part this year.
In the COSAFA Cup, Stars have been placed in the same group as Angola, Mauritius and Malawi, while group B comprises Mozambique, Seychelles, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
The Stars performed poorly last time out when they lost all their three group matches. They fell 1-0 to Swaziland in their opening game as well as 2-0 defeat against Madagascar that dashed their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.
A 1-0 loss to Lesotho in the final group match meaning they packed their bags without a win and without scoring a single goal. The overall winner will clinch a quarter-final berth against defending champions, Bafana Bafana, who were seeded, based on their performance in the cup alongside Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia and Lesotho.
The fixture shows that Swaziland will face the winners of Group B, which is a hugely competitive pool that includes Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique and Seychelles.
The other two quarterfinals will see Botswana take on Zambia in a titanic battle and 2015 winners Namibia play Lesotho in another COSAFA Castle Cup classic clash. The regional showpiece tournament was first played in 1997 and has been won four times each by South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Angola have three titles to their name and Namibia one. Long-time sponsor of the tournament, Castle Lager, will be hosting a number of exciting activations around the COSAFA Castle Cup, including a five-a-side football competition and have also brought on board a number of ‘legends’ from the region to lend their support to the event.