By Gilbert Wandera
Tanzania are through to the semi-finals of the Orange Senior Challenge Cup after blanking Eritrea 4-0 at Nyayo National Stadium.
Mrisho Ngasha netted a hat-trick in yesterday’s match, pushing his tally in the competition to five goals in a match that was dominated by the winners.
However, it was John Bosco who opened the flood gates in the 61st minute when he headed home a Ngasha dipping shot from the left flank.The goal broke an Eritrea side that had been resilient all along, defending and almost catching their opponents on a counter-attack.
Ngasha scored his first goal in the 64th minute after beating Ambair Sium in Eritrea’s goal with the simplest of efforts.
He added another one in the 77th minute and finished it off with an 85th minute goal to send Tanzania to the semi-finals.
It is the second time in a row that Taifa Stars are making it to the last four of the competition. Last year, they edged out neighbours Zanzibar at the same stage when the competition was held in Uganda.
Tanzania coach Marcio Maximo was a delighted man after the match and praised his players for the huge win.
He said: "The substitutes we brought on the pitch worked well for us as they kept up the tempo we had in the first half."
"Eritrea defended well in the first half, but they could not keep up the tempo and that is why we were able to score the goals," he said.
Maximo said he hopes to make it to Sunday’s final and perhaps lift the trophy which has eluded him since he took over handling the team four years ago.
Ngasha, who was the hero of the afternoon, said he is confident of helping his team lift the regional title.
His Eritrean counterpart, Negash Teklit, said he is not disappointed by the result considering that he fielded a young side in the competition.
"Most of our players are young so for us it was a great experience as we prepare for the next round of World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
"We did not play any friendly matches prior to the competition and only trained for 12 days," he said.
Teklit said their aim was to qualify for the last eight, something which they have achieved in these championships.
Eritrea did not play in last year’s edition of the regional tournament following problems with their federation.