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Harambee Stars players line up before their AFCON qualifier against Egypt on March 25, 2021. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Football

Harambee Stars look to end fruitless AFCON journey on a high

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – Harambee Stars plays Togo in Lome on Monday night in their final match of the qualification towards the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, one that has ended in futility.

Stars had hoped to progress for back to back Cup of Nations appearances, but four draws and a loss have seen that journey come to a screeching halt and will be merely playing for pride and bragging rights against Les Éperviers.

Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee’s men are third in the group with four points picked from home and away draws against Egypt and similar results at home against Comoros and Togo.

A win will take them to seven points and boost their confidence especially ahead of the next round of assignments, the World Cup qualifiers which start in June.

Mulee says they need to win the match to finish on a high and spur his new team moving forward, injecting a ton of confidence especially on the young local based players who are yearning to star and make a name for themselves.

“We want to finish the group with a good result. We are in Togo to try and win the game. It is long since Harambee Stars won an away match. It’s not going to be an easy match but judging from the performance against Egypt, if we can equal the same then I believe we will finish the group in third,” the tactician stated.

Mulee will miss the services of Kenneth Muguna who picked up an injury against Egypt as well as the suspended Johnstone Omurwa. AFC Leopards’ Clyde Senaji was called up as a replacement.

The tactician is expected to tinker a bit with his squad with the likes of Cliff Nyakeya who was brought off after only 12 minutes when Omurwa was red carded expected to be given more minutes.

Mulee has at the same time hailed the performance of local based players saying they give him hope for the future.

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“I have to say I loved the confidence and I like the way the boys executed our plan for that game. I can say that I am happy with mostly the local players who got their debut at the high level and they did not show any stage fright at that game,” coach Mulee said of the locals’ performance.

He adds;

“It’s a good beginning for the local players and they need to believe in themselves that they can do it. The league is very competitive and when you look at how the local players played in their debut it gives you hope and hope also to local players that it’s not impossible to be in the national team and to perform,” the coach said.

The coach hopes to build on the performance from these last two matches towards June’s World Cup qualifiers and he hopes the young local lads can convince him to make up majority of the squad.

“We have a group where we know it will not be easy with difficult opponents in Rwanda, Uganda and Mali but looking at how we are rebuilding the team there’s an opportunity for us and hopefully we can have some friendly matches before then to keep the confidence high and gauge ourselves,” he adds.

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