Harambee Stars have destiny in their hands when they face Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup surprise package Zanzibar in their third Group “A” preliminary qualifying match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos Saturday at 4.00pm.
In the meantime, it will be either swim or sink for Rwanda’s Amavubi and Kilimanjaro Stars of Tanzania in as far as qualifications to the semi-finals is concerned with the two teams set to clash in the early kick-off at 2.00 pm.
As the race to the last four stage enters the final stretch, defending champions Uganda Cranes will wind up their preliminary Group B fixtures when they date Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega Sunday.
Harambee Stars coach Paul Put may be a firm believer that the desired results cannot be achieved overnight although he has goaded his charges to go at Zanzibar’s jugular, especially after the islanders edge out their sister nation Tanzania 2-1 on Thursday to leapfrog Kenya at the top of Group A.
“In-as-much as my plan is to assess all the players to chart the way forward ahead of future assignments, I call upon each one of them to pull out all the stops and beat Zanzibar. This way, they will be in the right frame of mind to face Tanzania in the final match,” said Put.
However, Put’s main worry are the injuries picked on utility players in captain Musa Mohammed and goal-poacher Masoud Juma during the goalless draw against Libya, which may force the tactician to give play time to new players. “Mohammed and Masoud are important players in the team and my wish is that they recover fully for the match.
If they don’t, I will field the likes of Ovellah (Ochieng) who has shown a lot of promise and infuse the squad with others who have yet to taste action,” said Hey. Among the players who are likely to receive a nod from Hey is Ernest Wendo of Gor Mahia and Zoo Kericho top marksman Nicholas Kipkirui.
But be it as it may, Stars will have to be on full alert to stop dangerous Zanzibar players Kassim Suleiman Selembe and Mohammed Issa Banka who left Tanzania defence in sixes and sevens.
Elsewhere, Kili Stars and Amavubi will be out to avoid further losses in their meeting as this may spell doom to their chances of making it to the semi-finals slated for Kisumu on December 14 and December 15.