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Stars up Fifa rankings, new kit unveiled

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NAIROBI, Kenya, November 23- It was a busy Wednesday for Harambee Stars as the side prepares to depart for the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania on Sunday.

The day begun with the news the country had moved up two places in the latest Fifa World Rankings to position 133 following their successful navigation of their 2014 World Cup pre-qualifier against Seychelles last week.

Then at a luncheon organised by Sarova Hotels and seasoned radio presenter, Maina Kageni, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) unveiled the side’s new kit that will make a debut at the regional tourney that kicks-off on Friday in Dar-es-Salaam.

Head coach, Francis Kimanzi said their CECAFA Group C would present his side with a measure of their progression since he took over at the helm three weeks ago.

“It will be a huge yardstick. We need to find out what is the difference between the level we believe we have acquired but we have made a step since I have been with them for less than one month.

“There is no pressure in the building of the team but of course, we build a team better when they are motivated and motivation is when they can get a reward and it means winning matches,” Kimanzi said.

Kenya have been drawn with 2014 World Cup Africa qualification rivals, Malawi, 2012 Africa Nations Cup finalist, Sudan and neighbours Ethiopia whom they have struggled to beat in the past four years.

Although winning the trophy last lifted by Kenya in 2007 remains the priority for the side, the coach has set the minimal expectations he expects from a team currently enjoying overwhelming goodwill since he took over.

“I want to see real development from the players I have got. Some are new to the squad and if they can pull off victories by themselves without relying on foreign players and this would be the huge step I’m looking for,” the tactician added.

Team captain, Pascal Ochieng said his charges were up to the task as they sought to capitalise on the goodwill the team is riding on following their 8-0 aggregate win over Seychelles at the Brazil 2014 pre-qualifiers.

“As players, we will do our best and everyone is prepared and a good winning mood and we want to take it to CECAFA,” the Rangers FC defender said.

Ochieng who scored Kenya’s opener away in Seychelles that set the platform for the rout said their opener against Malawi on Monday would be crucial both for the regional competition and next year’s World Cup qualifiers.

“It’s a very important match since we shall learn one or two things from the way that they play that will make us know how to handle them next year. We have a team with good potential and I’m sure we will do better than last year.”

During the unveiling of the kit, FKF president, Sam Nyamweya, expressed confidence that the team could do the job in Tanzania.

“We have started well by winning our match against Seychelles. The boys have assured us they will come with the trophy. As a federation, we are ready to support the team,” Nyamweya said.

Kageni, the head and morning show presenter of local station, Classic 105FM noted his gesture was aimed at inspiring the team to attain the heights in Tanzania and beyond.

“People like to be associated with winning teams. We need to understand this is not club sport where you can have a bad result and people forgive you. This is a national team; we need to get behind them.

“If we do not get behind Harambee Stars, then who will be? This is a national outfit, with a new coach and a new management team and it is important to set them off on the right note with a message of good luck,” the veteran broadcaster told.

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