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Eritrea coach ‘not afraid’ of Harambee Stars

Eritrea head coach Efrem Haile during a match at the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 16 – Eritrea head coach Efrem Haile says he is not scared of Kenya’s Harambee Stars as the two sides prepare to lock horns in Tuesday afternoon’s 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup semi-finals at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala, Uganda.

Haile was also Eritrea’s head coach when Kenya’s Rising Stars beat the Eritreans 1-0 in the semi-final of the CECAFA Under-20 Championships held in Jinja, Uganda in October and has included up to eight players from that team into the senior side.

“We respect Kenya a lot but we are not afraid of them. We know they are a good team very strong and tactically good that is why they have won all their three games. I have watched them and I know it will not be an easy game,” the tactician told Capital Sport.

He believes his team has grown in stature especially with a qualification to the Senior Challenge semis for the first time in 25 years and he hopes they can go across the line and reach the final.

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi and his assistant Zedekiah Otieno watching Eritrea taking on Djibouti at the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The tactician says they have analyzed Kenya’s game plan in the first three matches of the campaign and they will devise a plan to beat them on Tuesday.

“They (Kenya) play a lot of long balls, they like to play switching balls while our game is on the ground. Sometimes it is difficult to play against such a team but we will plan well for them and hopefully get the win. It is a knockout game and we will give our best,” he further stated.

His sentiments are echoed by skipper Robel Teklemichel who also skippered the Under-20 team in Jinja.

“We play tiki taka kind of football and we are confident with that we can beat Kenya. I know some of the players because I played with them at Under-20. We lost but this time hopefully we can revenge with the senior team,” the skipper noted.

“We believe in ourselves because we have played well so far and it would be our dream to get to the final.” He added.

Eritrea players walking off the pitch after a match at the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Eritrea finished second in Group A with seven points after picking victories against Djibouti and Burundi, drawing with Somalia and losing 2-0 to hosts Uganda.

The team believes they have gathered enough experience and are now a better outfit.

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“This is a new team we have tried to build from the Under-20. So far so good and I am happy with the players. When we get tough matches, it helps us to become better,” he added.

The Red Sea Boys are returning to the Senior Challenge Cup after 12 years, having been banned from the competition after the 2012 showpiece here in Kampala.

Their Achilles heel heading into the game against Kenya is their scoring. They have scored four goals; three against Djibouti and one against Burundi while they have fired blanks against Somalia and Uganda.

Defensively, they have proved to be solid as they have only conceded two in the 2-0 loss to the Cranes while keeping four clean sheets.

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