Ahead of Sunday’s Group B decider against Niger at the Stade de Port Gentil, Tanzania U-17 trainer, Bakari Shime fielded questions with CAFOnline.com
The 47-year-old enthused that The Serengeti Boys as the Tanzanian U-17 team is called, will avoid defeat against the Junior Menas to secure their country’s first qualification to any FIFA-organised tournament, by picking a ticket for the forthcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in India later this year. Below are excerpts from the interview
What has been your experience so far at the Total U-17 Africa Cup of Nations I here in Gabon?
This is a very good competition and it I was very difficult for us initially because this is our first time to be here. I think all of us have come to learn and compete; it is an opportunity to improve young boys for their future and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far.
You had successes in the last two matches against Mali and Angola and with four points going into the last match against Niger, how do you feel about this?
The result has been good so far but we have prepared well for this tournament and it was a huge feeling to draw against the defending champions in the first match and winning our last game against Angola has given us great confidence. I ‘m really happy for the boys but the most important match for us is on Sunday against Niger. The concept for our team is to be in the semi-finals in order to participate in the World Cup in India. We know Niger is a strong team but we are going to fight to get at least one point or all the three points in order to achieve our mission.
What will be qualifying for the World Cup be to you?
Last year, we attended a pre- World Cup tournament in India and we did very well despite the fact that was our first major international competition. We played against USA, South Korea, Malaysia and so, we already have an idea of playing at the World Cup level and we believe we would represent Africa very well if we make it to India.
What is your experience before appointment as coach of this team; and what is your coaching philosophy?
I was a footballer and actually played in the Tanzania Premier League for Coastal Union of Tanga before I broke my shoulders and stopped playing football. I turned to coaching and have devoted much time to training of youth teams in academies. I belief in good defending structure as well as balancing in attacking.
How long has it taken you to get these boys up to this level?
For almost two years, we have been preparing this team and some of them since when they were in the Under-13 teams. They are now matured and ready to take up more responsibilities.
Who is the first person you are going to call if you get a World Cup ticket on Sunday?
I’m going to call my wife because she has supported me so much for this work because I’m not always at home. I have two daughters but I stayed away from my family because of this job; she has supported me so well and she would be the first person I’m going to call if we get the ticket to play in India.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)