Emmanuel Amuneke led Taifa Stars of Tanzania will face one of their greatest nightmares in the football world when they face West Africa’s Aliou led Senegal in their first match of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON today.
Lions of Teranga will be disadvantaged to some extent for the reason of missing Liverpool forward and golden boot winner, Sadio Mane.
Mane will be missing after receiving two yellow-cards during qualification matches for the biennial showpiece of the African football, although he will be available for the rest of the matches.
Taifa Stars will be looking up to lighten the faces of East African fans on their African Cup of Nation debut since their only appearance 29 years ago when they exited the competitions without winning a match and must work to avoid a repetition of the same.
Senegal boasts of one of the best squads despite not making it high in the world cup in her recent attempts.
Her record in all the recent matches that they have played, they have shown very good results recording six wins against, Nigeria, Mali, Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea, and Sudan, a draw against, Madagascar in a return match and a loss to Columbia.
Here are some of the players to watch during the clash between the two sides
The Cisse boys will be led in the defence by a most-sought Manchester United defender Kalidou Koulibaly who currently plays for Napoli in the Italian League, Serie A.
With the assurance and presence of Koulibaly at the back, Senegal will be powered to push as much as they want towards the Taifa Stars goal but with caution from the East Africans.
The star defender has appeared for the national team 32 times.
The 27-year-old who plays for Germany side Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga has featured for the national team a record of twenty-seven times. His combination with Koulibaly at the back will present a hard rock to penetrate when they face Tanzania in the Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
Idrissa Gana Gueye
Idrissa Gueye features for the English side, Everton as a midfielder after joining them from Aston Villa in 2016 and has scored 3 goals after 99 appearances.
The 29-years-old midfielder has featured for his national team for 57 record times and has two goals in his name, his volatility and pressure at the attacking point from the midpoint is one that Tanzania will have find a way to fight.
The 24-years-old plays for Rennes as a forward and will be playing for the Lions of Teranga for the 14th record having scored 4 goals for the appearances he has for the country.
Unluckily, he did not score a goal for the ended season in the French league.
Niang will be aided at the attacking side by fellow teammate and countryman, Ismaila Sarr. The 21-years-old will be making his 21st appearance for the national team with 3 goals in his name and looking to add on the tally before the return of their main man.
Tanzania last qualified for the tournament in 1980, but to be playing again after a record three decades is a show that the team has improved and will be one to watch.
So far with regard to the four matches that have been played,it has come out obviously that there is no underdog team in the ongoing competitions. For instance, Uganda stunned the Democratic Republic of Congo by thrashing them 2-0, Egypt was held in their opener match till late Zimbabwe but won, 1-0.
Nigeria won a late goal against Burundi while Equatorial Guinea settled for a 2-2 draw against first-timers in the tournament, Madagascar. With this in mind, no one will be surprised if Tanzania beats Senegal.
The Tanzanian team may be somewhat very much unknown but it has some good players that cannot be by-passed. It is led by Mbwana Samatta who plays in Belgium for RGC Genk and doubles as the national team captain.
The Tanzanian forward is one of the best forwards at the moment in East Africa. He features for the Belgian side, KRC Genk, a side he joined from DRC giants TP Mazembe in 2016.
The 2015 African player of the year based in Africa has hit the ground running in Belgium and has been linked with a move away this summer. He scored two goals for Tanzania during the qualification phase.
He is one of the swift attacking midfielders for the Taifa stars team currently playing for Moroccan side, Difaa El Jadida whom he joined in July 2017.
He has played for other clubs in the Tanzanian League like Azam FC, Moro United, and Yanga FC before joining the Moroccan side. He scored two goals for Tanzania during the qualifiers.
Farid Mussa is one of the highly rated players in the Tanzania squad. He plays for CD Tenerife B of the Canary Islands in Spain.
Mussa started his career with Azam FC in the local league back in 2013 before joining CD Tenerife in 2016 after impressing in trials. Known for his pace and crossing ability, Musa will be a key player for Amunike in Egypt as he seeks passage to the knock-out round.
The 23-year old is Taifa’s no. 1 goalkeeper. He plays for Simba FC in the local league having started his career with Mtibwa Sugar FC and later Azam FC before settling at Simba in 2017.
He has helped Simba to claim two league titles and starred between the posts as Simba reached Caf Champions League quarter-final in 2019. He will be key for Stars in Egypt against the likes of Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Michael Olunga.
Senegal full squad:
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes, France), Alfred Gomis (Spal, Italy) and Edouard Mendy (Reims, France)
Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy), Moussa Wague (FC Barcelona, Spain), Pape Abdou Cisse (Olympiacos, Greece), Salif Sane (Schalke,Germany), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux,France), Lamine Gassama (Goztepe, Turkey), Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes, France), and Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace, England)
Midfielders: Alfred Ndiaye (Malaga, Spain), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, England), Keprin Diatta (Club Brugge, Belgium), Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Galatasaray, Turkey) and Henri Saivet (Bursaspor, Turkey).
Forwards: Ismaila Sarr (Rennes, France), Keita Balde (Inter Milan, Italy), Mbaye Niang (Rennes, France), Moussa Konate (Amiens, France), Mbaye Diagne (Galatasaray, Turkey), Sada Thioub (Nimes, France), Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England).
Tanzania full Squad:
Goalkeepers: Aishi Manula (Simba SC),Metacha Mhata (Mbao FC) and Aron Kalambo (TZ Prisons).
Defenders: Hassan Ramadan (Nkana FC), Vincent Phillipo (Mbao FC), Gadiel Michael (Young Africans), Ally Mtoni (Lipuli FC), Mohammed Hussein (Simba SC), Kelvin Yondani (Young Africans), Erasto Nyoni (Simba SC) and Agrey Moris (Azam FC)
Midfielders: Feisal Salum (Young Africans), Himid Mao (Petrojet FC), Mudathir Yahya (Azam FC), Frank Domayo (Azam FC), Farid Mussa (Tenerife) and Yahya Zayd (Ismailia).
Forwards: Rashid Mandawa (BDF), Mbwana Samatta (Genk), Thomas Ulimwengu (JS Saoura), John Bocco (Simba SC), Abdillanie Mussa (Blackpool) and Simon Msuva (Difaä El Jadid).