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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Fatigued Samatta defended by Taifa Stars coach Ndayiragije

3:27 PM GMT+8 29/11/2019
Mbwana Samatta of Tanzania and Denis Onyango, Uganda goalkeeper embrace after the 2019 Afcon Qualifiers match on 08 September 2018 at Mandela Stadium
The Burundian tactician comes to the defence of the Belgium-based striker, saying he always gives his all for the national team

Tanzanian coach Etienne Ndayiragije has come out to defend skipper Mbwana Samatta’s performances for the national team.

Samatta, who features for Belgium top division side KRC Genk, has been in the spotlight for his performances in Taifa Stars colours recently, with some fans saying he is producing below-par displays.

Shortly after the Taifa Stars lost 2-1 to Libya in their second Group J clash of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on November 19, several fans took to social media to criticise Samatta for his performance.

Samatta gave the Taifa Stars an 18th-minute lead but Libya equalised through a penalty of their own in the second half before Anis Saltou scored the winner in the 82nd minute.

While the Taifa Stars were relatively comfortable in the first half, they were short on offensive threats for much of the encounter.

Many attributed this to Samatta’s lack of attacking nous, saying his movements were detrimental to the side as they attempted to break down a well-organised Libya outfit.

However, coach Ndayiragije feels criticism directed at Samatta are unfair and uncalled for. 

“Unlike at [Genk], with the national team, the opposing defenders put pressure on him [Samatta], while at Genk, the attacking role is almost shared by other top strikers and not just Samatta,” Ndayiragije explained to Daily News.

Ndayiragije also believes the pressure put on Samatta by defenders provides an advantage to other players such as Simon Msuva to attack and score goals.

“I am grateful he has been working hard to make sure we win, his focus has always been great but a big challenge is he always join the camp late…It can be one or two days before the game, making it impossible to make all plans in a day," Ndayiragije continued.

“Apart from having less time to prepare, it is normal for a player to experience fatigue after a long trip and he requires time to rest. It was a long journey for him from Belgium to Burundi, Libya but yet he had to focus and give his best in the 90 minutes’ game.”