Serengeti Boys’ players close in on profession stint              

14Mar 2019
Joseph Mchekadona
The Guardian
Serengeti Boys’ players close in on profession stint              
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A section of players that turn out for Tanzania’s national U-17 football team, Serengeti Boys, which took part at the just ended UEFA ASSIST tournament in Turkey, stand a chance of being recruited by top European clubs.

Serengeti Boys’ players attend training session in Arusha to shape up for the 2019 AFCON U-17 finals, which will be played in Dar es Salaam from April 14-28.

A prominent soccer scout, who is based in South Africa and watched Serengeti Boys play in the tournament, issued the statement yesterday.

The UEFA ASSIST tournament, held in Antalya from March 4–9, attracted 12 countries from three confederations.

They are Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda from the Confederation of African Football (CAF); Australia, which belongs to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC); and Belarus, Montenegro and Turkey, representing UEFA.

The competition, as revealed by organizers UEFA, aimed at giving the eight CAF teams that have reached the final qualifying round for this year's FIFA U-17 World Cup– plus Australia, who have already booked their finals place – the opportunity to play a preparatory tournament.

It was also a chance for the three UEFA countries to take on opponents of a kind they would otherwise rarely meet.

Serengeti Boys, who will be the hosts of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) U-17 finals scheduled for April, played three games in the UEFA ASSIST competition, edging Australia 3-2 and suffering defeats to Guinea and Turkey.

The scout, who opted for anonymity, said many clubs in Europe showed interest in the services of Serengeti Boys’ stars due to their impressive performance during the tournament and said the outfits will monitor the players at home during the AFCON U-17 finals.

“For now it is too early to name the teams and players, but teams in Europe approached us, saying they will send either some scouts or members of their technical panels to our subsequent games especially during the AFCON U-17 finals to monitor the performance of the players,” he said.

He went on to say the outfits were impressed with the performance of more than five players and they want to monitor the performance of the latter over a couple of games.

“So, let us hope that our players can be consistent enough and perform well to be considered for trials,” he said.

After the UEFA ASSIST competition, Serengeti Boys are preparing for a youth football competition, which will take place in Rwanda, before returning home for the AFCON U-17 finals.

Serengeti Boys’ head coach, Oscar Mirambo, and Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Technical Director, Amy Ninje, could not be reached for their comments on the matter.

However, recently prolific Serengeti Boys’ player Kelvin John had been linked to a move to South Africa’s Ajax FC. The player has been impressive in many games for Serengeti Boys.

A top South African soccer agent, Paul Mitchell, in previous interviews with The Guardian, said Tanzania stands a chance to benefit from hosting the AFCON U-17 championship as many scouts from within and outside Africa will come to look for players.