Football supremacy: Do-or-die for Kenya, Tanzania

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
Kenya’s Duke Abuya (centre) vies for the ball with an unidentified Tanzania player as team-mate Joash Onyango (right) looks on during last weekend’s CHAN qualifier in Dar es Salaam. Photo/DAVID NDOLO

Kenya has another chance to stamp its football supremacy over neighbouring Tanzania when home-based Harambee players take on Taifa Stars at Kasarani on Sunday evening.

At stake in the delicately-balanced tie is a step closer to the Champions of African Nations (CHAN) finals, a tournament Kenya has tried but failed to qualify for since its inception. CHAN is Africa’s second tier continental competition reserved only for players picked from home-based teams.

Kenya went to Tanzania for the first leg last weekend and registered a scoreless draw in the sweltering heat of Dar es Salaam. Sebastien Migne’s boys have a home advantage on Sunday but must be at their very best to eliminate a really talented Tanzanian troupe who still hope to upset Kenya and avenge their humiliating Africa Cup of Nations loss in June.

Harambee Stars is boosted by the return of Philemon Otieno at right-back, having missed the first leg due to suspension. Migne deployed Bernard Ochieng, a natural centre-half, in that position and it worked out well as Harambee Stars kept a clean sheet.

With Kariobangi Sharks custodian John Oyemba manning the posts, Ulinzi Stars’ James Saruni will keep bidding his time for national team debut but Otieno is expected to slot in right back into the defence with Ochieng moving to the centre alongside Gor Mahia’s Joash Onyango.

Away goals

Not many changes are envisaged with Kenneth Muguna and skipper Dennis Odhiambo getting the nod in central midfield. Migne could however, tinker with his forward line as his priority sharply changes from keeping a cleansheet on the road to going into the score sheet at home this weekend.

Having kept Kenya at bay in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will be a happy lot should they score in Nairobi. Any scoring draw will work for Taifa Stars as thy will progress on the away goals rule. Migne is also keen to avoid the spot kicks lottery and wants his charges to score and win the tie.

Good chance

“We are focused on making it to CHAN finals and you see we did well away from home not losing the game and not conceding. That means we have a good chance of progressing but we must be smart and work hard at the same time. Tanzania are very dangerous and we wll try to be cautious even as we look for goals,” the Frenchman said. 

To sort Kenya’s shyness in front of goal, Migne called up free-scoring Tusker FC forward Boniface Muchiri and Western Stima striker Kelvin Omondi. Muchiri can get into the team straight away but Omondi has the likes of Enosh Ochieng and Pistone Mutamba ahead of him.

Muguna, who alongside Oyemba and Onyango were the standout performers in Dar, expressed confidence in the team to bundle out Tanzania and qualify for a second successive international tournament.

“We can do it and we believe in ourselves. Having gauged their strength last weekend, I believe we will finish the job in Nairobi. It is my wish that fans come to Kasarani in large numbers to support the team,” said Muguna.

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