Tanzania coach Etienne Ndayiragije has come out to state the recent explosion which rocked Limbe Stadium will not affect the team’s targets in the African Nations Championship which starts in Cameroon on Saturday.
Explosions were reported outside the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Thursday and heading into the tournament, Cameroon have faced criticism for using a host stadium in the South-West region against a backdrop of local instability.
Zambia, Tanzania, Guinea, and Namibia, who are in Group D, are expected to play at the Omnisport Stadium during the tournament, which is reserved for home-based African players. The first game at the stadium is scheduled to be between Tanzania and Zambia next Tuesday.
Despite the situation in Limbe, Taifa Stars coach Ndayiragije has maintained they have not been affected nor faced disturbing issues since they arrived in the town and they are preparing to play their opening match without focusing on what is happening there.
“We have been assured that there is tight security, and we have not been affected in any way since we arrived here, so our focus is on what brought us, to play in the tournament, and we have already set our targets and that is where we have turned our energy to,” Ndayiragije told Azam TV.
“We have asked the players not to be concerned about the situation, we are here to play and win our matches and we have to focus, and that is our main target here.”
Although the attack on Thursday did not have any fatalities, several cars were destroyed, amidst ongoing concerns about the safety of the region due to separatist tensions.
The reported terrorist act was claimed by 'Fako Action Forces', according to local source Journal du Cameroon. The explosion reportedly took place on the 'perimeter' of the Limbe Stadium, just one of the venues designated to host Chan matches.
On whether Tanzania are ready for the tournament having played only one build-up match against DR Congo which ended in a 1-1 draw, Ndayiragije said: “I thank the federation for giving us the friendly against DR Congo, it was a very good training friendly for us because it gave us the real picture of where the team is because we did not have time to train.
“We don’t need to talk about whether we had enough time to train or not, that should not be the case now, I don’t want my players to use that scapegoat, no…we did what we did and now it is time to focus and do the job that brought us here and we will use what we have to achieve our goals.
“You can have a long training session but come to a tournament and lose your matches and you can still have a few days of training and go to a tournament and surprise the teams and reach the final or even win the trophy, so we are not looking at how our opponents trained ahead of the competition, our focus is to use what we have and enter the pitch to win our matches.”
Cameroon will start the event by playing Zimbabwe in the capital on January 16.
Apart from the Omnisport Stadium in Limbe, other stadiums that will be used are the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde which will host Group A games. Group B fixtures will be played at Japoma Stadium in Douala, while Group C participants will be playing at the Douala Reunification Stadium.