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‘Harambee Stars up for the challenge’ – Olunga confident ahead of Ivory Coast showdown

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024 09:42 | By
Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga training at Kasarani. PHOTO/(@OgadaOlunga)/Michael Olunga/Twitter
Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga training at Kasarani. PHOTO/Michael Olunga/Twitter

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga has acknowledged that their 2026 World Cup qualifying match against Ivory Coast will not be easy, but they are ready for the challenge.

On Tuesday, June 11, Kenya will face the Elephants in yet another duel set to be held at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi. This comes after Harambee Stars failed to grab maximum points against Burundi.

“It will not be easy, but the boys are up for the challenge," Olunga told the press.

Although they could not pick up three points against the Swallows, Olunga believes they have the needed plan to handle Ivory Coast.

“We really wanted to take the maximum points [against Burundi] and it was unfortunate at the end that we couldn’t do it. Of course it was a setback, but if you look at it, we still got one point, and I believe that every game matters.

“Now, the team is really focused on the next assignment against the African champions, who we know will pose a different threat than that of Burundi. However, each and every game we have to plan and come up with a way to counter the opponent," he concluded.

Firat's concerns

On his part, head coach Engin Firat talked about the unavailable stadiums in Nairobi. Both Moi International Sports Complex and Nyayo Stadium are not available as they are undergoing renovations.

“The whole picture now is a different one because when the draw was made, I had different plans than today. Normally, my plan was to sit in Nairobi and play tomorrow in front of 40,000 Kenyans," Firat said.

He added that his plans have been broken because of the missing players.

“When you make the plans, even against Burundi, we had eight players from the ones we had invited missing, and now one more will miss.

“Therefore, all plans have gone broken, and we are not a country that can really replace every player. At the moment, we have a team full of local players. Ask the Ivorians when was the last time they had a local player play on their national team," he continued.

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