NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – Back to back friendly match victories against South Sudan and Tanzania with a group of local based players has given head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee some motivation and much needed confidence, but the Harambee Stars tactician will face his toughest test yet when the team takes on Egypt on Thursday night.
In their penultimate qualification match in search of a place in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, Mulee will be out to pick a win at home against the Egyptians to put the Kenyans into a mathematical chance of qualification.
A draw and a loss against Comoros in Mulee’s first two matches in charge more or less slowed down Kenya’s match to Cameroon and now, the Harambee Stars will only have to rely on mathematics and favours from others.
Comoros play the early kick off against Togo and if the islanders just pick a draw, they will qualify. Kenya will need to beat Egypt at home and Togo away next Monday and then hope that Comoros beat Egypt.
All this mathematics, but the tactician remains committed to doing the job against Egypt.
“Egypt is a very good team, no doubt about that and we know we have never beaten them. There is always a dream to do something for the first time and we are dreaming to upset the form book. The story will be Kenya beating Egypt and we are prepared to see that we can be able to pick points at home,” Mulee stated.
He adds; “If we win against Egypt then we are back into the game and we have a chance to redeem ourselves. This will make the Togo game a final for us but the most important is the game against Egypt which will determine how we move.”
He is not fazed at the prospect of facing a very talented Egyptian side which will see the return of Mo Salah into the fray.
“We are not looking at any one player but of course, Salah has done well at his team and he is a good player. But we also have players who have done exceptionally well at their clubs. Look at Olunga and his achievements in Japan, being named MVP and top scorer. We will measure up against them and 90 minutes will decide,” added the coach.
The tactician has made the bold decision of leaving out several experienced faces and will most likely put faith on several local based players to do duty on Thursday under the Kasarani lights.
“There are many things we were looking at when we were naming the squad and we have players who have shown good quality and good form. We also need to respect the local league and these players have performed really well for their clubs,” he adds.
The tactician will have to do with a new defensive partnership with Joseph Okumu out with injury and Brian Mandela just recently returning after a recurrent knee problem.
Joash Onyango who was man of the match when his Tanzanian club Simba SC beat Egyptian giants Al Ahly 1-0 in the CAF Champions League last month will lead the defense line and will most likely pair Wazito’s Johnstone Omurwa.
“The boys are ready and we have trained well enough. We know it is a tough task but we are determined to get a good result for Kenyans,” the coach added.