Cote d’Ivoire superstars have singled out Taifa Stars forward Mbwana Samatta as a “fantastic striker” who might join a top European club sooner rather then later.
The 20-year-old prodigy, who plies his trade at TP Mazembe of DR Congo, was a thorn in the flesh of Cote d’Ivoire defence, but could not find the back of the net.
Taifa Stars lost 2-0 to the star-studded Ivorian side in a well contested 2014 World Cup Group C qualifier.
Speaking after the match, Chelsea forward Solomon Kalou and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure lavished praise on Samatta wondering why he has yet to secure a move to a prominent club in Europe.
“He is a fantastic player, he should be playing at a big European club. The guy is difficult to mark and I must confess that he gave us a rough time,” said Kalou.
The TP Mazembe man put up a sterling performance and had a couple of stupendous attempts on goal, but Cote d’Ivoire goalkeeper Barry Boubacar was up to the task.
Toure echoed Kalou’s words saying: “Samatta is talented, he troubled our defenders for a better part of the game. He has what it takes to play in big European clubs, but that will depend on discipline and hard work.”
Toure disclosed that they had to come up with a strategy to contain Samatta after realising that he could inflict damage in the second half.
Samatta expressed delight for Toure and Kalou’s comments, but also revealed that Galatasaray defender Emmanuel Eboue tipped for greatness.
“I am grateful for such comments. Eboue also said the same thing during the match,” the former Simba striker said.
Stars, the under the charges of Kim Poulsen, continued with training at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium yesterday.
Poulsen told The Citizen that it was imperative for his boys to double their efforts in training ahead of another tricky qualifier against Gambia.
Ranked 15th overall by Fifa, the Elephants took the lead nine minutes into the game through Kalou after finding a breach in the Tanzanian area during a goalmouth scramble.
However, Stars were unperturbed and kept disorganising the Ivorians with their two-to-one attacking style, which kept the hosts’ attacking line unproductive for the rest of the first half.
With the score still at 1-0 after the hour mark and Stars still holding their ground, coach Sabri Lamouchi brought in Ya Konan Didier and Kader Keita to spice up the frontline, which paid off immediately after Keita sharply set up Drogba for the second goal.
Cote d’Ivoire will play Morocco in Marrakech on Saturday while Tanzania will host Group C’s fourth member Gambia in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.