Tanzania’s national team players are unfazed by facing African heavyweights at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast, insisting they are ready to “shock” the continent’s top sides.
The Taifa Stars were drawn in Group F alongside Morocco, DR Congo, and Zambia for the finals in Ivory Coast beginning on January 13. Morocco represents the biggest threat in Group F as semi-finalists at last year’s World Cup, with DR Congo and Zambia also boasting greater AFCON pedigree.
Despite being pitted against teams with far greater AFCON pedigree, Tanzania’s squad remains upbeat about causing an upset. “We have already gained experience in this competition and we are aware of the strength of these two teams we’ve played before,” said striker Simon Msuva, referring to DR Congo and Zambia.
“The important thing is for us to go and fight hard. Even those nations seen as African football giants started like us. We are now going up and I’m sure we will shock them.”
Msuva, who plays club football in Algeria, believes the team’s European-based players can help bridge the gap if they perform to their potential. Fellow forward Novatus Dismas echoed Msuva’s defiant tone, stating: “There are no big names anymore in football. We will not be weak but will fight hard as the nation’s hope.”
Tanzania have never progressed beyond the group stage in four previous AFCON appearances, most recently in 2019. But the Taifa Stars are confident of holding their own against the continent’s star-studded sides when the finals kick off in 100 days’ time. The top two in each of the six groups will advance to the knockout rounds along with the best four third-placed teams.