Taifa Stars of Tanzania coach, Emmanuel Amuneke has blamed several mistakes committed by his players for their amazing 3-2 loss to Kenya at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Despite twice going ahead in the hectic East African derby, Amuneke’s lads failed to hold their own till the last whistle and let The Harambee Stars sneak in a very late winner, much to the consternation of their coach.
However, the former Zamalek of Egypt, Duisburg of Germany, Sporting Lisbon of Portugal and Barcelona of Spain left-footed winger, who became African Footballer of The Year, after helping Nigeria win AFCON 1994 with two goals in the final against Zambia, also admitted that Tanzania should have won had they played with more experienced players.
Amuneke said he remains proud of having helped Tanzania qualify for their first Africa Cup of Nations participation in 39 years, following their first outing in his country, Nigeria, back in 1980, but he submitted that they still lack character and experience.
The former Super Eagles’ winger, who took over as Tanzania coach last August and became a national hero after guiding them to AFCON 2019, ahead of Uganda, Lesotho and Cape Verde, pointed that 14 players in his squad are home-based, which he says is holding the team back.
Only three members of the squad are in Europe, being Blackpool’s Adi Yussuf, who has spent his career roaming the lower divisions of the English league, Racing Genk’s Mbwana Samatta and Faridi Mussa, who plays in the lower tier of the Spanish league.
With his side’s loss to Kenya on Thursday, Tanzania became the first team to be eliminated from the expanded tournament in Egypt, where only eight teams exit at the group stage, but the head-to-head rule means they are guaranteed to finish bottom of Group C.
Amunike said: “It’s an eye opener for Tanzanian football – the truth is we are not in a position to compete.
“If you do not know how to manage your game, you pay the price. There were a lot of crazy things going on and we committed a lot of mistakes.
“Our positioning was wrong, our marking was wrong. That is something we have practised over and over again… but players are players.
“As a coach you stand on the sidelines and you are helpless… there is no character in the team. We lack the experience.
“It’s important that the players must be able to interpret the game, know what to do when they have the ball and don’t have the ball.
“The players need exposure to stronger competition, in a place where they can grow and compete with other players in Africa. I’m not being harsh, just realistic.”