AFCON 2019 AFCON 2019

Stars in battle with destiny against Taifa Stars

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Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne gives instructions to the players during a training session in Cairo on June 26, 2019.

CAIRO, Egypt, Jun 27 – If their primary target of getting into the round of 16 of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is to remain floating, then Kenya’s Harambee Stars have to beat neighbors Tanzania when the two clash in the East Africa Derby at the 30th June Stadium in Cairo on Thursday night.

Both teams kicked off their campaign with identical 2-0 losses against Algeria and Senegal respectively and the match on Thursday will as much of a derby as it is a final; lose and you go home or win and have hope.

“If you lose the first game it is important to win the second in this kind of competition. If we are to sustain our dream of qualification, we have to go in the field and show our qualities. We have to start the game from the first second and if we do that it’s possible,” Migne stated.

Stars had a torrid performance in the first half against Algeria where Baghdad Bounedjah and Royad Mahrez struck to punish them, but improved in the second half, though without shaking the net.

With three points against Algeria, Kenya can dare dream as a point in their final game against Senegal on Sunday might secure them a spot as one of the top four best number three teams.

Harambee Stars defender Abud Omar passes the ball under pressure from midfielder Ismail Athman Gonzalez during their first training session at the June 30 Stadium training ground on June 20, 2019

Migne expects a tough Tanzania side who also must win to remain in the competition but he believes his team will have the chance to pick maximum points from the duel.

“Against Algeria we were shy offensively but it will not be the same with Tanzania. Algeria game was very tough but the level will not be the same with Tanzania. It will be a tough game because it will be a derby but we are able to compete and compete well,” the tactician stated.

He added;

“Kenya has not won a game with stake at AFCON. Now, we have the chance. We will try to write a good story and win a game with stake and after, everything is possible. Maybe it will be time to dream,” Migne added.

A side of the team that has been lacking over the last few games has been the offensive bit. Apart from the game against Ethiopia in Nairobi where Stars won 3-0, they have not been able to score more than one goal each game since the tie against Ghana.

Harambee Stars players line up before their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) match against Algeria at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo on June 23, 2019.

They beat the Black Stars 1-0 at home (own goal), lost 0-1 away and over the last two friendly matches, won 1-0 against Madagascar (penalty) and drew 1-1 against DR Congo.

One man who will be tasked to write a different story on Thursday is striker Michael Olunga who has been Kenya’s ever present man in the opposition box. Against Algeria, he and skipper Victor Wanyama were closely guarded, but now he says he has to work and get a goal.

“For us every game is an important game. This will be even tougher because Tanzania are our neighbors and we know each other well. The most important thing for us is to go there and get victory,” Olunga said.

He added; “I believe we have the quality to compete against Tanzania. We have three points to play for and we are going there to fight, not compete. We will give our best,” stated the Japan based striker.

Migne will make do without Joash Onyango for the second game after he failed to recover in time from the ankle injury he sustained last Saturday while right back Philemon Otieno will also not start.

Harambee stars Head Coach Sebastien Migne shares words with deputy captain David Owino during a training session at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies on September 5, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

In his place, the experienced feet of David ‘Calabar’ Owino will slot into right back with the defender coming in to start his first match since Migne took charge of the team. Owino, a mainstay at the defense line fore the Frenchman’s arrival has not been exactly one of his favorites.

For Tanzania, they will once again look on for inspiration from Genk striker Mbwana Samatta who just like Olunga and Wanyama against Algeria was not give space by the Senegalese.

Head coach Emmanuel Amunike knows it will be a tough game for his side but reckons they have charged themselves up to earn victory in the do or die tie.

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