ational football team Harambee Stars will throw all they have at Black Stars of Ghana in a bid to outshine the star-studded West African powerhouse and jumpstart a frail 2019 Africa Cup of Nations bid.
The second round of group qualifiers that hold a significant bearing on the course every team will take is slated for Kasarani stadium from 4pm on Saturday.
Victory for Kenya will resuscitate hopes of a campaign that already looks like a mirage following Kenya’s loss to group underdogs Sierra Leone in the first round of matches. Ghana on the other hand look to take a firmer grip on the group they are largely expected to win, having thrashed Ethiopia 5-0 in the group’s first match last year as Kenya lost to Sierra Leone in Freetown.
An upbeat Kenyan coach Sebastian Migne has promised Ghana a humbling with positive play from his charges. “I’m not going to pack the bus, we are playing at home and we must give our fans value for money, faith and support for us. Ghana is a good side, they have played good friendlies with Iceland and Japan but we are not afraid,” Migne said.
He added: “I’m targeting maximum points from Ethiopia and Sierra Leone in subsequent matches but it will be good to get something from Ghana as well. So we shall play very positive football without fear.”
Odds are stacked against Kenya after circumstances conspired to render Harambee Stars light in selection choices. With skipper Victor Wanyama already out of the tie, dependable center half David ‘Calabar’ Owino was yesterday ruled out due to injury with marksman Jesse Were doubtful despite taking part in Friday morning training.
Owino’s blow brings to four the number of first team players missing the fixture. Speedster Ayub Timbe and imposing figure of Brian Mandela will also be missing. Nonetheless, Kenya hopes to borrow from the 2018 World Cup blue print and make it difficult for Ghana to get maximum points.
The tie has been dubbed the biggest home match of the Football Kenyan Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa regime because it is the first senior international tournament started under his tenure. Previous campaigns were continuations from the past regime.
FKF is determined to make the game violence free and urged fans to turn up without fear. The federation has printed 50,000 tickets and will deploy plain-clothes police officers in the stands to arrest anyone intending to cause trouble.
“We are not joking about security. This is not a derby and we expect civility from fans. Don’t come to the stadium if you don’t intend to buy tickets. You will be picked up and taken to custody and we will ensure you are arraigned on Monday and charged.
We have laid a comprehensive security plan with police and all will be well for fans outside the stadium and inside. The stadium gates will open by 10am so there should not be any stampede,”Mwendwa said.