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Ninety minutes away from glory

A second round entry in the Olympics qualifying beckons for Kenya’s under-23 national football team Emerging Stars as they face Mauritius in the return match in Port Louis Sunday.

Mauritius will be striving to brush off the debris of a heavy 5-0 defeat suffered at the hands of Kenya in the first leg match at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC) in Nairobi last Wednesday.

In a nutshell, The Baby Les Dodos, as the Mauritius team is fondly referred to, will need a mind-boggling 6-0 win over Kenya to advance in the tournament whose finals will be held in Japan in 2022.

The winner of the two-leg affair will meet the winner between Sudan and Seychelles.

Mauritius coach Sakoor Soodha acknowledged that Kenya was a brilliant force in the first leg match and that qualification for them in the next round of the qualifier seems like a foregone conclusion.

But in as much as Soodha bemoaned the ignominious defeat in Nairobi, he blankly pointed out that if Emerging Stars was to outclass Baby Les Dodos in Port Louis in the decider, it will not be by such a considerable margin.

“You can take it to the bank that it will not be 5-0 loss again in Port Louis and all I can say is that we are ready to redeem ourselves in our backyard,” said the extrovert tactician.

He added:” We have not given up yet. I have rallied my charges to ensure that if we are to be eliminated, it will be with utmost dignity. Football dynamics in Africa have changed and we can score as many goals as Kenya scored,” said Soodha while thanking his team for a good fight.

“I think we played fantastic football towards the end only that luck was not on our side. Kenya has good players with exceptional skills but with or without them, I think we can match them pound for pound in the reverse fixture,” said Soodha.

But be it as it may, Emerging Stars are bracing themselves for a second round meeting with the winner between Sudan and Seychelles.

Kenya’s coach Francis Kimanzi is not expected to make changes in the team in the first leg clash with Brian Bwire expected to man the posts while being shielded by the defence line of Joseph Okumu, Yusuf Mainge, Johnstone Omurwa and David Owino.

Teddy Osok will probably be the linkman while play-maker Ovela Ochieng starts from the wing as Ibrahim Shambi, Chrispinus Onyango, James Mazembe and Pistone Mutamba run errands in search of goals. -CHARLES THUKU

As for Mauritius, the men to watch include Alison Charlot, Saramond Kengy and Jason Ferre who shone brightly in the first leg encounter.

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