When the draw for the African preliminary qualifying rounds for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ paired Tanzania with Kenya, most observers had to crack a smile. Not only are the two countries neighbours, they have been great football rivals for many years and know each other well.
They had already played a friendly against each other in March 2003, which the Kenyans won quite easily 4-0. The first game in Dar Es Salam ended in a goalless draw, which kept Tanzania's hopes alive. To boost their chances of advancing to the next round, the side undertook a short tour to Uganda to prepare for the return leg. There the Taifa Stars lost a friendly against the Ugandan national side 2-1. They then went on to lose against Kenya 3-0 and were knocked out of the FIFA World Cup qualifying competition 3-0 on aggregate.
Only once in the seven times they have participated in the competition has the team advanced past the first round. That was in 1982, when a 5-0 win over Kenya in the return leg wiped out a 3-1 defeat in the first leg. Then, however, the Tanzanians came unstuck against Nigeria, the west Africans advancing 3-1 on aggregate.
A history of underachieving aside, Tanzania will be hoping for better things ahead of South Africa 2010.