NAIROBI, Kenya, June 3- Congo Brazzaville head coach Pierre Lechantre has admitted his side is wary of the threat posed by Southampton FC midfielder Victor Wanyama as they prepare to face Harambee Stars in 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifier on Sunday in Nairobi.
While the coach expects Kenya’s game changer to be the Southampton FC midfielder, top striker Thievy Bifouma, who plies his trade in the French League with Reims has pin pointed striker Michael Olunga as one who can make the difference in the match.
“Kenya is good team, I know them for long. Of late, they have good young players and most importantly, the tall striker is one who we should be very careful about. We have to play strong because Kenya are athletic. I just hope their best players don’t play well on Sunday,” Bifouma said after the team’s session on Friday evening.
His sentiments were shared by his head coach Lechantre, who just recently took charge of the team after the departure of ‘The white witchdoctor’ Claude Leroy.
“I have watched clips of Kenya’s matches against Guinea Bissau and I can say they never deserved to lose. They are a team that should not have one point at this moment. I have seen their number 12 midfielder, the captain (Wanyama) is a very good player and makes a lot of difference. Also, they have good wingers, particularly one with the left foot (Paul Were). This is not a team we should expect to have easy against,” the coach said.
Congo came with a different team from the one that played to a 1-1 draw with Kenya in Brazzaville in March last year.
The 24-year old Bifouma will be one of the players returning to the team and Capital Sport has learnt most of the foreign based players boycotted the first game due to alleged differences with then coach Leroy.
In the squad that travelled to Nairobi for Sunday’s match, only four players are local based while the rest ply their trade in Europe, mostly in France.
“In the first leg, the players who were there were mostly from the local Congo league and so the team was not strong. Right now, we have the possibility of fielding our strongest team on Sunday. But you know, this is football, you can field a strong team and things don’t work out,” Lechantre stated.
Bifouma is expected to partner fellow French based striker Ferebory Dore in attack as they seek to dismantle Stars in what Bifouma describes as the most important match in their AFCON campaign.
“It is tough, but we have to come here and get a result. It is not easy but looking that we want to play at the African Cup of Nations, we need to win and the players have that focus and belief,” the striker added.
Among the players who are expected to make the difference in the team include skipper Prince Oniangue and Delvin N’Dinga who will run the midfield show for the Red Devils.
“We have only two options on Sunday. We either win, or win. There’s nothing else if we want to be at AFCON. We will play an attacking game, go for goals and hopefully we play well on that day,” the tactician added.
Congo are second on the table on six points, same as third placed Zambia but with a better goal difference. A win for Kenya coupled with a draw between Zambia and leaders Guinea Bissau in the other group match will see them top the table.
However, if they lose to Stars and Bissau lose to Zambia, then they will need to win against Bissau in the final group match and wait for Kenya to do them favours against Zambia in Lusaka for them to stand a chance of qualification.