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Kimanzi cautious as Eritrea lie in CECAFA wait

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi shares a joke with his assistant Zedekiah Otieno during a training session in Namugongo, Kampala on December 16, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 17 – Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi is playing his cardrs close to his chest as he prepares his side to take on Eritrea in the semi-final of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala on Tuesday.

Kimanzi believes Eritrea will be a tough opponent and extra motivated especially noting that they are making their first semi-final appearance since 1994.

“Every team in the semis wants to get to the next 90 minutes. It will be a tough match; they are there by merit and we are also here by merit. I am sure they will give their best and the luckier team in the tournament will be the winner,” Kimanzi told Capital Sport after the team’s training session in Namugongo on Monday.

Stars made it to the last four top of Group B after winning all their three group matches, scoring four goals and conceding one while Eritrea were second off Group A having won two matches, drawn one and lost one.

Midfielder Kenneth Muguna also bears the same sentiments as the coach and says the team will be cautious ahead of the duel, insisting they will not underrate the Eritreans.

Harambee Stars midfielder Kenneth Muguna dribbles the ball during a training session in Namugongo, Kampala on December 16, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“We have been following their performances online and from their results, it shows they are not an easy team. We will prepare well for them and we will not dare underrate them. We will go in play our best and get to the final because that is the minimum target we have for ourselves,” Muguna noted.

This will be an interesting duel as the Eritrean squad is composed of up to 10 players who were part of their CECAFA Under-20 squad that lost 1-0 to Kenya’s Rising Stars at the same stage in Jinja in October.

While they will be seeking revenge, Kenya will be out to assert their authority as one of the powerhouses of East and Central African football.

Head coach Francis Kimanzi will be back on the touchline after serving his two match ban, but he is not enthusiastic about his return, instead focusing on helping the team get to the final.

Harambee Stars players warming up during a training session in Namugongo, Kampala on December 16, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“I really don’t see anything to be excited about getting back to the touchline. What is important is the players are happier that they are in the semis and will be giving their best to get to the final,” the tactician stated.

He is expected to revert to his strongest starting team, the one that played the opening match against Tanzania. But, the performance of youngster Musa Masika in the semis, and the fact that he knows the Eritrean team having faced them in the Under-20 might see him earn a start.

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