TWO key Tanzania national football team strikers Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu could miss Sunday’s 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations first round, second leg qualifier against Zimbabwe at the National Sports Stadium.
The two, who play for Democratic Replublic of Congo giants TP Mazembe did not take part in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Malawi and it is not known when they will be in camp despite overtures from the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) to secure their release.
TFF president Jamal Malinzi told the Tanzania media that he had written a letter to the Lubumbashi-based team to request for the two but with no response to date.
Malinzi said Mazembe, who play Zamalek in the Caf Champions League next weekend, have been silent on TFF’s request, an indication that the availability of the players is uncertain to date.
Samata scored the only goal that saw TP beat bitter rivals AS Vita 1-0 in the Champions League over the weekend.
The last time Samata and Ulimwengu travelled to Dar es Salaam for the Zimbabwe clash, it is believed that the government played a crucial role to convince the TP Mazembe owner and president Moise Katumbi to secure relapse of the two.
The two were identified as the key players in the Tanzanian squad that troubled the Warriors back four of Hardlife Zvirekwi, Milton Ncube, Patson Jaure and Eric Chipeta in the first leg and their absence could be a blessing in disguise for the Warriors.
On Tuesday, former Warriors midfielder Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo told our sister paper, Southern Eye that an early goal will unsettle the visitors.
Mashinkila-Khumalo played in the much-acclaimed Reinhard Fabisch-coached Dream Team in the 1990s, said the boys must go on attacking mode from the outset.
“Carrying that 1-0 loss and what we have got, I think our chances are very bright especially if we put our heads together, that is the players and the technical team. I think we can get the positive result. We just have to go in there and attack from the start. We are only trailing 0-1 and an early goal will unsettle them (Tanzania). The chances are bright for the Warriors,” Mashinkila-Khumalo said.
Meanwhile, in a bid to lure fans for the high profile 2015 Afcon first round, second leg qualifier between Zimbabwe and Tanzania set for the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, Zifa has reduced gate charges to $2 for the rest of the ground.