Dar es Salaam. The government has showered praise on the national soccer team, Taifa Stars, players for their fighting spirit, despite failing to muster a win at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Stars returned home yesterday from Cairo, Egypt, where they participated in the Afcon for the first time since 1980.

The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) disclosed that they would now shift their focus to the Champions of African Nations (Chan) qualifiers, which are exclusive for players plying their trade in domestic leagues.

Stars landed at the Julius Nyerere International Airport on a rather low key reception after managing to score a paltry two goals in Africa’s premier championship.

The Information, Culture, Arts and Sports minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, told soccer enthusiasts not to lose hope, for the results Stars recorded were part of the learning curve.

He said the government in collaboration with TFF will analyse the team’s performance in Cairo and come up with the best strategic plan for the 2021 Afcon finals.

“Our players fought hard and they deserve credit for that. It is high time we made a thorough analysis and come up with an apt plan for the next finals,” said Mwakyembe.

For his part, TFF secretary general Kidao Wilfred said the team technical bench will unveil their proposal soon, disclosing that Stars will play Kenya on July 28 in a Chan match at the National Stadium.

According to Kidao, Stars will be looking to avenge their 3-2 Afcon defeat, which quashed their hopes of qualifying for the last 16.

He explained that they were taking the competition seriously as they looking forward to qualifying for the next year’s Chan finals to be held in Cameroon.

The competition will be hosted between January and February 2020 in Cameroon. Ethiopia were formerly awarded as host, but their football governing body, EFF, said they were not ready for hosting the competition.

Kidao said the players to form the national team would be unveiled later by the Taifa Stars head coach, Emmanuel Amunike.

The team will be without the likes of Mbwana Samatta, Thomas Ulimwengu, Farid Mussa, Adi Yusuph, Yahya Zayd, Rashid Mandawa, Himid Mao and Simon Msuva, who are ineligible for the tournament.

“We will meet with the technical bench and assess Stars participation in the Afcon 2019, thereafter, we will come up with a strategy for both Chan and Afcon. Amunike, however, had already announced a provisional squad when preparing for the Afcon 2019 finals.

Some players, who were dropped for Afcon would be included in the team that is expected to go to camp from next week.