NAIROBI, October 22 – Harambee Stars will have to play out of their skins for a place in the 2010 World Cup after being handed a tough draw in the final qualifying round.
Stars will play three times World Cup finalists Nigeria, four time finalists Tunisia and Mozambique in Pool B with the top team in each group qualifying for the World Cup in South Africa. The top three in each group will proceed to 2010 African Cup of Nations.
The star studded Super Eagles of Nigeria will provide the stiffest opposition having gone through the second round of qualifiers without dropping a point and conceding just the one goal -which was an own goal.
It is the second time that Stars have been drawn against Nigeria having been grouped together in the 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign that saw the home boys pull off a creditable 1-1 draw in Nairobi but were handed a 3-0 hiding in Lagos.
Most recently, they lost 0-1 in a friendly match played at Kasarani in May last year.
Stars will also not have fond memories of playing the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia having lost both home and away in the 2006 World Cup qualification round.
Kenya lost 1-0 away in Tunis before losing 2-0 in Nairobi in a match played behind closed doors following a Fifa ban.
Their previous meetings with the Crocodiles of Mozambique will provide hope. Stars beat the Crocodiles 1-2 in Nairobi in 1991 through a Peter Mwololo first half goal in a match that saw one person die and 24 injured in a stampede.
Two years later, Stars thrashed Mozambique 4-1 in an African Cup of Nations qualifier.
Four time African champions Cameroon were handed an equally tough draw in pool where they will face Morocco, Gabon and Togo.
Current African champions Egypt were handed the easiest group of them all after being drawn against Algeria, Zambia and Rwanda in Pool C while 2006 World Cup finalists Ivory Coast are in relatively easy group alongside Burkina Faso, Guinea and Malawi.