NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama believes that the national football team has a decent chance of qualifying to next year’s African Cup of Nations in Cameroon after their win over Ghana and a draw over Ethiopia put them top of Group F.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder believes that the current generation of players have what it takes to steer the team into Africa’s biggest stage and has vowed the team will work their socks off to get to Cameroon, breaking a 14-year drought.
“That’s the plan (qualifying) because we have been missing AFCON for most years and I believe our time is now. If it is not now, then I don’t know,” Wanyama told Capital Sport.
He added; “We have to be humble and take game by game. For us I think it’s a realistic chance and things are looking good, but still there’s lots of work to do. We have to stay on our feet and try to do the work.”
His sentiments were shared by striker Michael Olunga who believes the team has placed itself in an advantageous position especially with the Ghana and Ethiopia results and has called upon his teammates to pull together and get the team across the line.
“Of course the players now believe this is our time. We have a huge chance of qualification, but the job is not yet done. We have to keep working for the remaining games,” Olunga noted.
Stars might book themselves a slot at next year’s Cup of Nations as early as this Sunday if they win against Ethiopia, but this will be determined on whether or not Sierra Leone will be admitted back to the qualification process.
The Sierra Leonians were banned by FIFA over government interference and consequently their double header against Ghana cancelled.
CAF in a statement on Thursday said the Leone Stars will only be reinstated once they fully comply with FIFA’s requirements. A source at CAF says there is the possibility of the West Africans being ejected off the qualifiers especially with little time left for qualification.
If they are ejected, then Stars win against Ethiopia, they go to seven points with only the match against Ghana remaining. Ethiopia will remain on one with the three points gained from Sierra Leone deducted.
But, if Sierra Leone remain in contention, then Kenya needs two win against Ethiopia then beat the West Africans in November to rubber stamp their tickets to Cameroon.
But even before all that, Stars have a tough assignment against Ethiopia’s Walia Ibex at Kasarani on Sunday and their target is nothing short of three points.
“Ethiopia were very dangerous when we played against them in Bahir Dar and it is not a team we can take lightly. It will be 90 minutes on the pitch and we urge our fans to come out and support us and we will represent them with a result,” Olunga noted.
Skipper Wanyama has also urged the side to be at their best and has also congratulated his teammates for their performance in Bahir Dar, saying they showed they can grind out results and will do so for the win on Sunday.
“I have to congratulate the team for the character and mentality they showed in Bahir Dar in a full stadium. We had a very strong mentality because managing the game with such a crowd is not easy. The fans were behind them from the first minute and the players showed they are mature to give their best in such circumstances,” Wanyama noted.