CAIRO, Egypt, Apr 13 – Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne is confident that despite being a tough group for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, his side can dare dream of making it into the knockout stages.
Stars are pooled with the best ranked African team Senegal, Algeria and Tanzania in Pool C and Migne says it is a group in which they can fight to get out of if they do everything right.
“We need to continue to dream. What I will tell the players is that the dream continues, for the fans and for themselves. We are lucky to participate in this tournament and we need to be happy on the field. To play Senegal and Algeria means we are on the high level and it is fantastic. We have no pressure,” the tactician told Capital Sport in an exclusive interview in Cairo.
He added; “I don’t know whether it’s a good draw but what is fantastic for Kenya is that one year ago no one expected us to qualify and now we are here.”
Kenya starts its campaign against Algeria on June 23 before facing neighbors Tanzania and Algeria on June 27 and July 1 respectively. These are matches that Migne believes will not be easy at all.
“We play against the number one team in Africa. We have nothing to lose and the only way for us is to try and create something fantastic. It is a huge event for the Kenyan people and we will try to be efficient and compete well,” Migne offered.
He added; “Algeria also is not easy. It’s a huge football country with good players. Tanzania will also be a fantastic derby and they are not an easy team. They won 3-0 against Uganda to qualify and that shows their level. It will be three fantastic matches and will try our best to give a good image of Kenyan football.”
The best two teams from each group plus the best four third placed teams make it to the knockout stage. With the tournament expanded to 24 teams, the next step after the groups will be the round of 16.
Can Kenya make it? Migne believes that is the target.
“The target is to move into the next round. We know it will be difficult; we know we are not the favorites but nothing is impossible. We have realized a fantastic qualifier stage with some good results but now we need to confirm that at the tournament,” the tactician stated.
Stars will now set off to make arrangements for their pre-AFCON training camp as well as a list of friendly matches they will play during that period.
This week, the coach and Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa will be in Paris, France, to firm up the final plans for the proposed training camp.
Migne was forced to look for an alternative after the earlier spot they had picked out was booked by two other teams as they were late to pay with the government remitting money late.
“We will work on it and we have been doing so for the last few days. We need to finalize the plans for the location and also the friendly games we will play. We need to have a good preparation if we are to realize a good AFCON and I trust my players that we will be ready,” the tactician stated.
Meanwhile, Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa was pleased with the draw and is optimistic Kenya can do well and qualify for the next step.
“It is a good draw for us, it is tough, there is work to be done and we will do it. We have to do our best. All the teams there, we can compete with them,” stated Mwendwa who accompanied Migne to the draw alongside Secretary General Robert Muthomi.
-Timothy Olobulu is reporting from Cairo, Egypt-