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Zico confident despite ranking blow

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NAIROBI, Kenya, October 19- Harambee Stars head coach, Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno is confident of overcoming Seychelles in the 2014 World Cup pre-group stage playoffs despite Kenya sliding four places in the latest rankings.

According to the global placings released on Wednesday, the country sits in position 135 down from 131 but according to the head coach, his side has been on the up recently and the run is set to continue when they travel to Seychelles for the first leg on November 6.

“We have been planning for the team to get results away from home and I believe the boys are building confidence playing at home even before we went to Uganda. I’m hoping to get a better result in Seychelles since it is time for Kenya to start winning away,” Otieno said.

He added: “Rankings are not more important that what we have been doing. We played well in Angola and Botswana and I knew before Uganda we were better placed.”

Kenya held Uganda to a barren draw a fortnight ago to deny the Cranes the win they needed to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup and the coach is hoping the momentum gathered will translate to a first away win for the side since beating Cape Verde 1-0 in 2002.

“I don’t know much about Seychelles but this week we are working to get as much information as possible about them. I have asked my assistant Musa (Otieno) who lives near the country to get as many details about them,” Otieno said.

He added: “We have also been talking to some players who have been in the country and the feedback we are getting has been positive. Our work is to keep the spirit in the team going.”

The coach who has once again seen domestic fixtures wreck his programme for the team with only 12 out of the 24 local players invited in camp said there was need for all concerned to lay out an elaborate scheme to accommodate all interests.

“The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) also needs to complete their fixtures and sometimes I feel the national team is not fair to them. Next year, whoever will be the Harambee Stars coach needs to sit with them and agree on a joint programme,” he expressed.

In the face of the play-off that will see Stars play both fixtures inside three days, the club versus country row has erupted with the KPL entering its final round of matches with the Football Kenya Limited (FKL) Cup also in the semi final stage.

Otieno has had to do without players from Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Sofapaka who are involved in the FKL Cup this week and the same is expected next week with midweek KPL games on the cards.

Aggregate victory against the Islanders will see Kenya join the 2014 World Cup group featuring Nigeria, Malawi and either Djibouti or Namibia who are facing off in a similar knock out pre-qualifier.

“For now, we cannot think of Nigeria since we are taking things step-by-step. Our aim is to go past Seychelles and then after that, we shall focus on the group,” the tactician noted.

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