NAIROBI, Kenya, March 20- Harambee Stars arrived for their Saturday daunting date against Nigeria’s Super Eagles where the contrast in recent fortunes for both teams could qualify their 2014 World Cup qualifier first-leg tie a mismatch.
The Super Eagles are on a high having secured their third continental title last month in South Africa in a development that has led them to the top-30 in the FIFA World Rankings.
On the other hand, Kenya will be led to the game by the Belgian head coach, Adel Amrouche, for the first time having been the 14th coach in a decade to handle the side that is languishing in position 127 of the same rankings.
“It’s the same style of training, the same continuity of what we did in South Africa and the same motivation we have for this game. This will; be the first time we are playing since winning the Nations Cup and Nigerians are expecting a lot.
“We have to beat them if we sustain the same attitude and mentality of going forward,” Stephen Keshi told SuperSport in Calabar after conducting his training.
However, there are no certainties in footballs and what a story it would be in the event Harambee Stars achieve a result with all odds stuck against them and that is the hope Amrouche preached before his charges departed for Nigeria on Wednesday.
“I’m not looking at any players they have in particular. Mine is to focus on getting my team ready and I have enough experience in this continent to know what is required. Nigeria will be a tough test for Kenya.
“We should be looking to the future, have a plan of maybe four or five years but for now, my work is to prepare the mentality and the attitude of the team to go there and face Nigeria without fear,” the Algerian born tactician who took over from Frenchman Henri Michel said.
While Nigeria are looking forward to playing in the FIFA Confederation Cup in Brazil this summer, Kenya are in desperate need to return their fledgling 2014 World Cup bid back on line.
Stars drew their opening Pool F fixture 1-1- at home to Mali before they fell 1-0 to Nambia in Windhoek to leave them bottom of the standings led of course, by Nigeria who beat Namibia 1-0 at home before forcing Malawi to a 1-1 stalemate in Blantyre.
Apart from Seattle Sounders’ Obafemi Martins and Victor Moses of Chelsea, who had connecting flight issues to Calabar, the capital of the eastern Nigerian state of Cross River, all invited Super Eagles players took part in Tuesday evening training supervised by Keshi, PM News Nigeria reported.
Norway based keeper, Arnold Origi and Johanna Omollo who plies his trade in South Africa linked up with their Stars team mates in Lagos before their onward chartered flight to Calabar.
“We are no longer the underdogs we used to be when losing to Nigeria. We have matured with time and grown in confidence,” Stars captain and AJ Ajaccio striker, Dennis Oliech said before the team left for Nigeria.
Stars have lost to Nigeria in their last four fixtures with the last game on March 29, 2011 ending 3-0 in favour of the Super Eagles during the qualifiers for the last World Cup in South Africa.
Since then, both sides have inched towards the opposite end of the football spectrum with Nigeria soaring and Stars dimming.
Could this trend set for a change on Saturday?