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Full list of Tanzania football heroes praised by Magufuli unclear to passionate followers

TANZANIA TAIFA STARS

(1980 Africa Cup of Nations)

Gk, 1 Athumani Mambosasa – (Simba)

Gk, 2 Juma Pondamali – (Young Africans)

Df, 3 Tasso Mukebezi (–)

Df, 4 Leodegar Tenga – (Pan African)

Df, 5 Jela Mtagwa – (Young Africans)

Df, 6 Mohamed Kajole – (Simba)

Mf, 7 Hussein Ngulungu – (Morogoro United)

Mf, 8 Ramadhan Mteni – (Simba)

Mf, 9 Juma Mkambi – (Young Africans)

Mf, 10 Omar Hussein – (Young Africans)

Fw, 11 Mohamed Massewa – (–)

Fw, 12 Thuwein Ali Waziri – (–)

Fw, 13 Peter Tino – (Pan African)

Mf, 14 Ahmed Thabit – (Young Africans)

Fw, 15 Charles Boniface Mkwasa – (Young Africans)

Fw, 16 Salim Amir – (Coastal Union)

Coach: Slawomir Wolkk – (Poland)

MOST teams in the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations list squads of 22 players, but Tanzania’s roster, in only its sole participation at the AFCON, shows only 16 men.

Perhaps only the captain of that halcyon days’ team can shine some light on how many he took to Nigeria that year; and if indeed he had a full squad of 22, who are the six not captured in the history books? Leodegar Tenga, a fresh University of Dar es Salaam engineering graduate then, holds on the enviable record of the only man to have led his country in an AFCON finals tournament.

TOP: Leading striker in Tanzania’s 1980 Africa Cup of Nations team Peter Tino (right) signs a banking slip of the $2,500 (Tanzania Sh5m) the “Class of 1980” received from President John Magufuli to celebrate ther countries current team reaching the 2019 AFCON Finals in Egypt in June. ABOVE: Leodegar Tenga, captain of the 1980 Taifa Stars, was long-time President of TFF and Cecafa and now chairman of Tanzanzian Sports Council (Baraza la Michezo Tanzania – BMT)

TOP: Leading striker in Tanzania’s 1980 Africa Cup of Nations team Peter Tino (right) signs a banking slip of the $2,500 (Tanzania Sh5m) each the “Class of 1980” received from President John Magufuli on Monday to celebrate their country’s current team reaching the 2019 AFCON Finals in Egypt in June. ABOVE: Leodegar Tenga, captain of the 1980 Taifa Stars, was long-time President of TFF and Cecafa and now chairman of  Tanzania Sports Council (Baraza la Michezo Tanzania – BMT)

He went on to a colorful career in the private sector business, then President of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) and the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) and eventually as an executive committee member of CAF (African Football Confederation) and a member of Fifa working committees.

He is now Tanzania Sports Council (Baraza la Michezo Tanzania – BMT) Government-appointed Chairman. The BMT are steering the hosting of forthcoming CAF U17 AFCON in collaboration of TFF’s Local Organising committee.

After 39 years, the Tanzania national football team on Sunday earned a return to the AFCON after a routing 3-0 win over Uganda in their last qualifying match in Dar es Salaam. The country’s President, John Pombe Magufuli, who was at home watching the thrilling closing stages of the match was like a young man in delight, walking around his sitting room and waving and showing thumbs-up to cameras: “Hio Poa (that’s fabulous)”. Some in his homestead, oblivious of history being made were at the dinner table and the President who could not fathom their lack of excitement alerting them of the earthshaking news, also for, “hata nyinyi mnaokula (you who are just eating!).

In Taifa Stars’ penultimate qualification match against Lesotho, lost 0-1, President John Magufuli [speaking to players] had given the team Tsh50m. He was so flabbergasted with the result he said: “I did not pick up any telephone call or replied to phone messages from Sports Minister [Mwakyembe].” This time, he told the team, “you must approach the tournament in unity. This Tanzania backwardness of viewing football divided, as Simba and Yanga [leading clubs] must stop.”

In Taifa Stars’ penultimate qualification match against Lesotho, lost 0-1, President John Magufuli [speaking to players, above and below] had given the team Tsh50m. He was so flabbergasted with the result he said: “I was angry. I was not picking up any telephone calls or replying to messages from Sports Minister [Dr Harrison Mwakyembe].” This time, in Egypt, he told the team, “you must approach the tournament in unity. This Tanzania backwardness of viewing football divided, as Simba and Yanga [leading clubs]  – must stop.”

The following day was like a “victory-day celebrations” throughout Tanzania; President Magufuli welcoming the Taifa Stars contingent, lavishing them with praise and gifts of plots to develop housing in the country’s political capital Dodoma. Many hoped this would have been extended to the historic heroes of 1980.

Real estate property would have been a pretty windfall for many of Taifa Stars 1980 squad who fell on hard times. It is well known that the luckier ones, like Tenga, over the years had to often bail out his mates who faced hardship almost on daily basis.

From left, Uganda and Tanzania players during their match at National Stadium Dar es Salaam on Sunday

From left, Uganda and Tanzania players during their match at National Stadium Dar es Salaam on Sunday

Peter Tino, the sharpest of the ’80 forwards, for instance, fell on hardship. Representing his teammates at the Presidential function he made a brief speech to the iteam assuring them of the moral support of the pioneer veterans. President Magufuli asked Tino where he lived and what he did for a living. The ex-player indicated hardship:

Tino: “I hawk sports goods for a living. But I suffer from lack of capital”

President Magufuli: “You lack capital, ho much do you require?”

Tino: “Whatever you would determine, Hon President”

President Magufuli ordered an aide: “Please find Sh5 million for the old man here”

Later, Tino pictured in Dar es Salaam, sensibly making an immediate investment deposit in a local bank and perhaps taking advise on how he could use as ‘seed money’ of  business development.

Of the 1980 squad many are alive and well including extrovert goalkeeper Juma Pondamali who went into coaching and club management after his playing days. Charles Boniface Mkwasa also had respected stints as coach of the national team and clubs, also including management.

'Class of 1980' members Charles Boniface Mkwasa, above, coached club and national teams and, below, Juma Pondamali coached goalies at Young Africans Sports Club

‘Class of 1980’ members Charles Boniface Mkwasa, above, coached club and national teams and, below, Juma Pondamali coached goalies at Young Africans Sports Club

 

In 1980, the Taifa Stars were indeed one of the great teams in Africa, those days the AFCON Finals being contest by only eight teams unlike the 2019 edition which for the first time will have 24 teams, up from 16. At AFCON ’80, Taifa Stars lost two Group I matches and lost one.

In the 1-3 loss to Nigeria, Juma Mkambi (54’) was Tanzania’s scorer. In the 1-2 loss to Egypt, Thuwein Wazir was the scorer. The Taifa Stars 1-1 draw was against Cote d’Ivoire where Wazir levelled in the 59th minute after Kobenan had given the Ivorians a seventh minute opener.

The Taifa Stars at National Stadium, Dar es Salaam on Sunday ... beat Uganda 3-0 to qualify for the 2019 AFCON

The Taifa Stars at National Stadium, Dar es Salaam on Sunday … beat Uganda 3-0 to qualify for the 2019 AFCON

In lead up to the Sunday match against Uganda, Seven members of the Taifa Stars ‘Class of 1980″ had made an unannounced visit to the training camp of the current national team,  the men who hold a special place in the hearts of many Tanzanians urging the current team to give their all in the last hurdle to qualify for this year’s AFCON.

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies

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