Great Dane Poulsen lifts Tanzania

AFP, Monday 13 Dec 2010

Success has come quicker than expected for Danish coach Jan Poulsen, as he tries to lift Tanzania up the African football pecking order

The Kilimanjaro Stars are ranked 27 of 53 FIFA members on the continent and a 1-0 home victory over Ivory Coast on Sunday in the CECAFA Challenge Cup final should lift them several places later this month.

The victory ended a 16-year football trophy drought for the East African country and silver-haired Poulsen, who stressed that success takes time when he took over in mid-year, revelled in the glory before 60,000 ecstatic supporters.

"After a lot of criticism, Tanzania proved worthy champions. The team started slowly but improved with each game," said the 64-year-old, who was an assistant coach when Denmark won the 1992 Euro championship against all odds.

Tanzania lost the opening match 1-0 to Zambia in the 16-day East and Central Africa championship with an Ivory Coast team consisting of home-based stars one of three 'guest' teams.

But Stars bounced back to defeat Somalia and Burundi and reach the knockout phase where the penalty-taking skills of captain-cum-defender Shadrack Nsajigwa proved crucial.

He converted the spot kick that eliminated dogged Rwanda, contributed to a penalty shootout victory over Uganda after a goalless semi-final, and calmly scored again from the spot on 42 minutes to settle the final.

Nsajigwa was named the best footballer at the tournament and team-mate Juma Kaseja the best goalkeeper, in recognition of Tanzania conceding only one goal in six matches.

Zambian Felix Sunza finished leading scorer with five goals, four of which came against weaklings Somalia, while Ivorian 'super sub' Tchetche Kipre, Ugandan Emmanuel Okwi and Ethiopian Oumed Oukri netted four each.

A concern for Poulsen, as he plans for 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers against Central African Republic, Algeria and Morocco next year, is an attack that managed just seven goals.

Tanzania made a good start to their six-match African campaign by forcing a draw at 2010 World Cup qualifiers Algeria, but a blunt strike force barely threatened Morocco when losing 1-0 in Dar es Salaam two months ago.

Seeking a record-equalling third title in a row, Uganda edged Ethiopia 4-3 in a third-place thriller with their third goal - a Tony Mawejje volley off a corner - the best of the tournament. 

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