CAIRO, Egypt, Jul 1 – The common stanza in Harambee Stars’ Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) song heading into the crucial Group C decider against Senegal on Monday night at the Air Defense Forces Stadium in Cairo is that they have nothing to lose.
Stars face the Lions of Teranga needing at least a point to book a historic place in the round of 16, an achievement which was their primary target coming into the competition for the first time since 2004.
Head coach Sebastien Migne has chosen to ease the pressure off his lads, saying they have nothing to lose when they face the continent’s best ranked team.
“They are number one in Africa; they have so many qualities not only physically. They have one of the best players in the world last season in Sadio Mane so we know it will be difficult. But it is a privilege to be here and compete with this kind of team but we don’t have anything to lose it’s only a pleasure, not pressure,” Migne said in his pre-match presser.
Senegal come into the match also with a must win mentality as a loss to Kenya will see their chances of making it into the last 16 wither, but a draw will assure them of second spot with four points, only separated from Kenya by goal difference.
The Lions of Teranga started their campaign with an easy 2-0 win over Tanzania before suffering a 1-0 loss to group leaders Algeria in the second match, building pressure on themselves.
They have the history of participating in the most number of Africa Cup of Nations tournaments without winning and coming in with a talented generation anchored on Liverpool forward Mane, they are under pressure to deliver.
But Stars who are eying a historic place in the last 16 have vowed to give their best and ensure they earn themselves a chance.
“We have the motivation and determination. We only want to ensure we are not under pressure and that is the main problem I have. But with me, I have good leaders in the team. I don’t have all the answers but I expect us to give the best,” Migne stated.
He added; “What it important is the team spirit; without it, then it will be difficult to challenge Senegal. We cannot compete in terms of individual players with them; it’s the reality. But if we develop good team spirit everything is possible.”
Migne will have a full strength squad at his disposal after both Philemon Otieno and Joash Onyago trained with the rest of the team over the last two sessions.
Philemon missed the game against Tanzania with an ankle problem while Joash picked up the same injury before the Algeria match.
“I don’t know whether all of them are ready, but we will see. It will be necessary for us to give more than 100pc,” the tactician stated.
While a point will assure Kenya of a place in the last 16, a slim loss might give Stars some mathematical chance if Benin and Angola fail to pick maximum points.