Another date with destiny as Harambee Stars face Africa champions

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024 00:00 | By
Clifton Miheso in action for Harambee Stars. PHOTO/@PassionSportsEA/X
Clifton Miheso in action for Harambee Stars. PHOTO/@PassionSportsEA/X

Harambee Stars will once again march into the Bingu Stadium today evening with hopes of staging a surprise result in their quest for a 2026 World Cup ticket.

The problem is that they face African Champions Ivory Coast. Probably it would not be the best time to face the Elephants who are enjoying a fine form since the elevation of coach Emerse Fae.

Adingira, Haller,Pepe, Kessie, Fofana are all waiting to pounce on a near deflated Kenya through injuries and player registration problems that have left coach Firat fuming.

Ahead of the epic showdown in Lilongwe, coach Firat said that this is not a ‘normal fixture’. “You don’t play every day against African champions,” he stated.

On paper, Ivory Coast are seemingly the favourite to carry the day best on their recent form and how they managed to turn their tables on their way to clinching a third African Cup of Nations title last February on home soil.

However, the Kenyan camp is oozing with confidence that they have all it takes to compound the visitors to a shocking first defeat in the campaign.

After the demoralizing 1-1 draw against minnows Burundi on Friday, Stars have picked and dusted themselves with vigor to face the Elephants even though it can take some time to completely erase the last week’s happenings.

It is a match that requires Harambee Stars to be at their best and stop the tricky Ivory Coast in order to revive the diminishing hopes of making it to the next World Cup.

Team News

A lot has happened in the Kenyan camp since their last outing.

Three players have joined the camp to attempt to bolster the squad. Kenya Police FC forward David Okoth was the first to arrive and took part in the Sunday training. Former AFC Leopards and Tusker FC defender who currently plays for Nyasa Bullets here in Malawi also received a nod from coach Firat as well as Kenya Police center back David Cheche Ochieng. Okoth was given a maiden call up to the national team to give the coach more offensive options considering that John Avire had sat out entirely during the Burundi match. For Cheche and Senaji is to strengthen the defense which has been hit hard with injuries.

Although the two players are available for selection today,coach Firat is likely to parade the same guard that played the Swallows. Rooney Onyango on the right, Aboud Omar on the left with Johnstone Omurwa and Daniel Anyembe partnering at the heart of the defense. Another option would see Seneji being drafted in to take Anyembe in his natural position on the right while Rooney Onyango is utilized upfront.

Egypt-based forward John Avire is poised for a role in the striking force, pairing with skipper Michael Olunga to provide the needed goals.

Bristol City’s Zak Vyner is not available for selection following an unsuccessful registration process that would have okayed him to feature for Harambee Stars.

Ahead of today’s due,Ivory Coast lead Group F with 9 points having won their three games already against Gambia, Seychelles and Gabon. Should they get another three points against Kenya,they will be in a commanding position to clinch the ticket to the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Kenya finds itself in a peculiar position after dropping two points against Burundi. Coach Firat charges are in third position with four points from three matches and a win will give the team a lifeline in the campaign.

The game kicks off at the 4PM Kenyan time and Moroccan referee Jayed Jalal will take care of the proceedings at the Bingu National Stadium.

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