Tanzania’s U-17 national soccer team coach, Bakari Shime has expressed delight in his team’s ability to hold Mali in a 0-0 drwa in the opening match of the Group B of the U-17 African Cup of Nations finals in Libreville Gabon on Monday.
Serengeti, who are making their debut appearance in the continental event, put a spirited defensive showing to keep their opponents at bay throughout the duel to register one point.
"We are here for the tournament to challenge the champions Mali. It has been a valuable point collected," Shime said.
"I congratulate my players for the job well accomplished. It was a big lesson for my players. We are here to compete."
"However, I admit we played against a team with quality. My players struggled in the first half but we made some changes in the set up and were stabilized in the second half. The shape of the team was changed as we moved forward in the second half."
Serengeti Boys' goalkeeper, Ramadhan Kabwili, was superb between the posts as the outfit snatched the vital point.
Mali were slightly ahead possession-wise but failed to turn their dominance into goals during the match of few chances. Captain Mohamed Camara inspired his team from the middle but they still lacked the cutting edge upfront.
Serengeti Boys will confront Mali in the second game tomorrow, in which a win is crucial for the former if they are to strengthen their pursuit of a place in the semi-finals.
Mali U-17 outfit's head coach, Jonas Komla, said he will insist on the need for his players to improve their performance in their next match.
"Nothing has been lost following the result against Tanzania who had a very good defense. However, the result reflects the kind of preparations we had before coming to Gabon," the coach said.
"Forty days of training were not enough and we also missed five high profile build up matches. I will ask my players to play and improve in the next matches. We came here with ambitions and one of them is to qualify for the World Cup, and the other is play till the end of the tournament."
On the sidelines of the opening match of the 12th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 at the Port Gentil Stadium on Sunday, CAF president, Ahmad Ahmad, was received in audience by Gabonese President His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba.
During the 45-minute meeting, the Gabonese President assured Ahmad of all his support for the competition which runs till May 28. He also congratulated him on his election and encouraged him on the reforms and ongoing projects.
On his part, the CAF President renewed his warm thanks to President Bongo for his deep attachment to African football and the intense demonstration of his loyalty to CAF, notably since 2012, with the hosting of two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations, and now the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
President Ali Bongo also announced that he was studying the possibility of creating a strong sporting movement, and particularly football, with other African heads of states at the African Union summit scheduled for January, next year, in Addis Ababa.
Meanwhile, the opening day of the tournament watched by 12,000 spectators produced 10 goals, a record in the history of the competition.