The Serengeti Stars are housed in Group B with Angola, Niger and Mali, and will be based in Libreville for the 14-28 May 2017 championship.
Since last December, the twinkle twinkle stars have been preparing, fine-tuning with training camps in Morocco and lately Cameroon.
In early April, the Serengeti Stars hosted Burundi and Ghana, and gauged their preparations with three matches against the two sides. They won both games against Burundi, 3-0 and 2-0; and played a 2-2 draw with Ghana. All the games were played in Dar el Salaam.
After, coach Bakari Shime and his charges emplaned for Morocco for a 21-day training camp. Whilst in the North Africa, they engaged host Gabon in two friendlies, winning 2-1 on each occasion.
Their last stop was in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital where the team rested for eight days. The Tanzanians shocked their hosts with a 1-0 win in the first test match before losing by the same scoreline in the reverse.
For Shime, the preparations have made his charges ready for their bow at the cadet championship, where their target remains a top four place, which will earn them a ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup later in the year in India.
“We are ready for the tournament. Our plans went well and we played a number of friendly games that shows the way forward. We expect a tough tournament but we will compete to achieve our goals,” said Shime.
“The spirit of the boys is high and the trainings have been productive too. We can say now we have a good team for the tournament and we urge all Tanzanians to support us.”
Young stars on the rise
Despite being first timers, the Serengeti Boys boast of promising talents eyeing continental fame.
The team’s asset is their attack, which fired 16 goals during the qualifiers. The main man upfront is Yohana Nkomola backed by super sub Mukhsin Makame Makamba.
The attack is fueled from the flanks by Nickson Kibabage and Israel Mwenda by their surging runs upfront. There is also winger Kelvin Nashon of JKT Ruvu, the only player from the Tanzania Premier League.
The team has the blessings of president of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Jamal Malinzi, who is upbeat about their chances.
“We had the best of preparations compared to the other participants. We played more friendly games than our opponents. We are confident that they will make us proud at the tournament,” said Malinizi.
“Our target remains to go past the group stage and qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. We believe we can do more than that. Let’s have faith with them and they will not disappoint us,” he added.
Host Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana ad Guinea make up Group A.