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Stars out to thrive against the odds

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NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8- Harambee Stars will have to marshal team spirit as history does not favour them in their quest to disarm the Brave Warriors in their second Group F 2014 World Cup qualifier at Namibia’s Independence Stadium on Saturday.

As the two nations endeavour to keep their Brazil Mundial campaign alive with a win, the hosts come to the clash with a better home record against Stars.

Being the third time they have been pooled together, their first clash in the race for the 1998 Burkina Faso Nations Cup saw Kenya lose 1-0 in both legs finishing last behind Cameron and Gabon in Group 6.

Stars were again felled in Windhoek during the 2010 World Cup cum Nations Cup qualifiers in a 2-1 reverse before edging the return leg 1-0 in Nairobi.

Despite odds being stuck against the visiting side, Stars head coach, Francis Kimanzi, who was in charge when a late Brave Warriors goal sealed the win in May 2008 believes his team can deliver.

“I said earlier that it is disappointing not to get maximum points at home but now we have a chance to see if we can disappoint our opponents in their own ground,” Kimanzi said at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ahead of departure as he underlined their mission after Stars were held to a barren draw by Malawi.

On the other hand, their hosts are preparing to lord it over Stars with their coach, Bernard Kaanjuka calling for the home fans to pack the 20,000 Independent Stadium.

“I want to see more than 15,000 people at the stadium on Saturday. This is our pride and we need to do well at home. Home support will be crucial.

“This group is not going to be easy and so we need our people to motivate us as well. Pack the stadium please,” the coach told Windhoek Observer website.

Despite the disappointing draw against Malawi, Stars head to the game having risen six places in the latest FIFA Rankings (111th/29th in Africa) with Kimanzi promising to improve from their limp display last Saturday.

“The corporation between our lines of play was not sufficient and we were very nervous at home since we could not settle down after failing to get an early goal. The game we played in the last ten minutes was not our game; it was not a good show,” the head coach attested on Thursday.

The coach welcomes back Norway based custodian, Arnold Origi to the fold after he missed the Malawi encounter due to club commitments. Deputy captain, Pascal Ochieng, Dennis Odhiambo (defence) and keeper Patrick Matasi missed the trip through injury.

Eugene Asike was called-up as cover for Ochieng with the forward line of leading scorer, Dennis Oliech, Slovakia based Patrick Oboya and Kepha Aswani charged with netting the goals.

In the Namibian corner Kaanjuka has options upfront after leading striker, Rudolf Bester, recovered from calf muscle injury with Henrico Botes and Lazarus Kaimbi available for selection.

The pair missed the tie against Nigeria through suspension and injuries and could work their way back into the starting line-up at the expense of Lovers Kamuhanga, Awilo Stephanus and Petrus Shitembi.

Stars are scheduled to depart from Namibia on Tuesday for Ghana where they will conduct their training before leaving for Lome, Togo for their return leg of the 2013 Africa Nations Cup qualifier on June 16.

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