24 March 2019 09:36
Seven members of the Tanzanian team that qualified for the 1980 CAF Africa Cup of Nations made an unannounced visit to the training camp of the Tanzanian national team, as they were preparing for their crucial Africa Cup of Nations against Uganda on Sunday afternoon, 24 March 2019.
The seven members – fondly referred to as the ‘Class of 1980’ in Tanzania – holds a special place in the hearts of many Tanzanians. They remain the only squad to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in Tanzania.
The seven brought with them a message of hope and inspired the current group of Tafia Stars to believe.
Peter Teno scored the only goal that took Tanzania to the 1980 AFCON against Zambia in a qualifier. He has fond memories of that match and what it meant to football in Tanzania.
In the streets in Dar Es Salaam – the capital – there is an air of optimism that the current group of players can replicate the feat last achieved in 1980. Teno, however, said he told the players to focus on beating Uganda and block the noise.
“I think we are very close. I believe we can really do something special here. First, we need to take care of our own business and beat Uganda on Sunday, then we can get to doing mathematics (referring to the other group match between Cape Verde and Lesotho),” Teno said.
Tanzania’s optimism also has pragmatism. They are aware that their fate is not entirely in their hands. Both Cape Verde and Lesotho are also vying for the only spot available in the group with Uganda having already secured qualification to Egypt.
Teno has fond memories of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations. “It was such an important tournament for our country. It came at a time when we were trying to establish ourselves in international football. The whole country was just so happy. We had qualified for the tournament despite many people writing us off. Even today, I can remember that day vividly.”
Unfortunately for him, the Tafia Stars have not built on that success since then. But on Sunday, there is an opportunity for them to right the wrongs and inspire a nation once again.
Teno believes this is possible: “Of course, we can do it. We can qualify again.”