Kenya keen to lock Togo out of bedroom

Monday, November 18th, 2019 04:03 |

 By Amos Abuga and Charles Thuku

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi will be counting on mental strength when his side takes on Togo in their second 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at Kasarani Stadium today.

Stars have one point in Group G same as Egypt after their morale-boosting 1-1 draw with the Pharaohs in Alexandria on Thursday while Comoros are top with three after defeating Togo 1-0 in Lome on the same day. 

Kimanzi, who arrived with the team from Egypt on Saturday afternoon, is  positive despite the 16-hour journey and given his side had only yesterday to train, he believes the contest is purely on mental prowess. “That is the situation we have. We had a light training on Saturday night. What we are focused more on is talking with the players to concentrate on the match,” said Kimanzi, who is still not sure whether injured Beijing Rehne winger Ayub Timbe and goalkeeper Patrick Matasi will be available for selection.

“It will be a different game than we had in Egypt. We might be forced to change formations depending on the players available,” he added. 

“We want to work on the positives from Egypt. The objective is to fight to get all the points and play well in front of our fans. It will be key if we can control the game and take our chances,” said Kimanzi, whose side can go top of the log with victory over Togo.

Captain Victor Wanyama called on Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and support the national team in their quest to play their second consecutive Afcon.

“If there is any motivation in the team, then it is to return to Cup of Nations and compete. Immediate return (to Afcon) is what is motivating the entire team, new and old players,” said Wanyama. He added: “I know we made some mistakes in the Egypt match which honestly are part of the game, now we need to learn from them and play well against Togo.” 

Meanwhile, Togo will be without celebrated striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

The Kayserispor striker was also not in coach Claude Le Roy’s plans for the first qualifying match against Comoros. 

Togo is leaving nothing to chance in the qualifiers especially after missing the 2019 Afcon edition held in Egypt.

The surprise inclusions in the squad are locally-based midfield enforcer Richard Nane, who plies his trade with ASC Kara, and pacy Charleroi FC linkman David Hennen, 23, who has represented Belgium at youth level and has also featured for Everton Youth.

Defender Ama Tchoutchoui Kangnivi is back in the national team after fully recuperating from an ankle injury.

Kenya last played Togo in the 2012 Afcon qualifiers, winning the first leg 2-1 in Nairobi before slumping to a 1-0 defeat in the return fixture in Lome.

Fans will part with Sh200 to access the stands in the match that will be played under floodlights from 7pm.

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