Tanzania has stepped up preparation for the September 5 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria by organising two high-profile international friendly matches against Kuwait and Libya.
The Tanzania Taifa Stars, gunning for its first appearance in the Nations Cup finals in 35 years, will play Kuwait and Libya before taking on Super Eagles in the first leg of Group G clash.
The two build-up matches will take place in Turkey later this month, according to sources within the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF).
“We are pleased to confirm two high-profile international friendly matches against Libya and Kuwait later this month,” the source, which pleaded for anonymity disclosed.
The source said that the team will leave for Turkey on August 25 for a week-long camp. He said 25 players would make the trip. The Stars, now on recess after bowing out of the 2016 African Nations Championship qualifiers, will resume residential training on Monday in Dar es Salaam for a two-week camp before heading to Kuwait.
On August 14, players from Young Africans and Azam FC will join their respective clubs for the Community Shield match set for August 22 at the National Stadium, according to the source.
“We want our players to undergo preparations they need to floor the former African champions (Nigeria) on September 5 and remain serious contenders for a place in the 2017 Nations Cup finals,” the source added.
“These two matches will serve as beneficial warm-ups for our team for the Nations Cup qualifying matches,” he said. When contacted for comment, Mkwasa promised to give more details on the Kuwait tour.
Taifa Stars, whose first ever appearance at the tournament finals dates back to 1980 in Nigeria, has been handed a tough group that also has Pharaohs of Egypt, Chad as well as the Super Eagles.
It has to overcome three-time winners (Super Eagles), record seven-time winners (Pharaohs) and Chad for a ticket to play at Gabon. The winners of each of the 13 groups will pick automatic qualifying tickets while the two best second-placed teams would join the train to Gabon.
Notwithstanding their illustrious credentials, both Nigeria and Egypt failed to qualify for the 2015 tournament held in Equatorial Guinea, with Egypt’s last showing being at Angola 2010 where it won its record-extending seventh title.