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Underrate us at your own peril, Mbao warn

Mbao players line up tensed during their penalty shoot-out against Gor Mahia in the SportPesa Cup first round match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 24 – After slaying the giants in defending champions Gor Mahia, Mbao FC have warned their SportPesa Cup semi-final opponents Kariobangi Sharks to underrate them at their own peril, saying their confidence has been hugely boosted and are motivated.

Mbao came into the tournament as underdogs, but surprised all and sundry much to the joy of the Tanzanians after beating Gor Mahia 4-3 on post-match penalties.

Head coach Ally Bushiri believes that the victory over Gor has boosted their morale and will be in a better position to challenge Sharks for a place in the final of the tournament in their debut year.

“I have seen how Sharks play and they are a very good team. But, in this competition, there is no underdog. Before, it was thought we were underdogs and people talked so many bad things but we have proved we can make it. No one will now underrate us,” the tactician stated.

“I respect every team in this competition and I will go into any match knowing that I am facing a tough team,” he added.

Mbao FC players celebrate after dumping defending champions Gor Mahia out of the 2019 Sportpesa Super Cup. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Mbao who are placed fifth in the Tanzanian Vodacom Premier League came from a goal down to level scores against Gor on Wednesday before finishing the job in the shoot-oit.

Bushuri has revealed that he had a strict pre-match tactical plan that he says his players executed to the latter. His plan was simple, deny Gor time on the ball and defend with numbers.

“Tactical discipline helped us. When you are playing against such a big team with exposure and experience, you can’t keep playing attacking football. We wanted to possess and keep muc of the ball and the hit on the counter when we have the right moment,” the tactician oted.

He added; “We prepared well for them. We knew we are playing against of the giants in East African football and we had to prepare psychologically and physically. That preparation really helped us. I am proud of the players and their performance.”

Mbao FC players line up before their SportPesa Cup first round match against Gor Mahia at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

On whether his side can go all the way to the final and get the coveted trophy and a chance to play English Premier League side Everton in July, Bushiri is not leaving anything to chance.

“In football anything can happen. This was a good start for my boys to beat Gor Mahia and build their confidence. We go into the semis knowing that we have beaten the defending champions and giants in East African football,” the tactician stated.

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Mbao who reached the final of the domestic cup here in Tanzania last season are in some decent form having lost once over their last five league assignments, winning two and drawing a similar number.

Their only loss was against Keshi La Kujenga Taifa (JKT) on Sunday where they went down by a solitary goal.

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