Malian, Rennes captain Traore awaits Olunga and team-mates in tomorrow’s Group E World Cup qualifier

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya’s captain Olunga arrives in Morocco with the team yesterday. AFP/Sportpicha

Edwin Otieno

Fresh from thwarting the world’s best attacking trio, in the form of Argentine Lionel Messi, Frenchman Kylian Mbappe and Brazilian Neymar on Sunday, Mali’s Hamari Traore now shifts his focus on denying Michael Olunga and Eric Kapaito as his side face Harambee Stars in a crucial 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifier in Morocco tomorrow.

Traore who skippers both Mali and Rennes, was outstanding when the french side inficted the first loss to the dreaded PSG side, thanks to a 2-0 win at their Roazhon Park in Rennes on Sunday.

Messi, Mbappe and Neymar could all not go past him as he marshalled the Rennes backline perfectly and now the question will be if  the call ups made by Stars head coach Engin Firat will be able to breach the star studded Mali defence line led by Traore. Against PSG he was playing in the right full-back position, but he may be deployed in central defence against Kenya. 

Mali’s squad has no local based player, as they are all playing in foreign leagues.

Apart from Hamari Traore, the hosts also boasts of the services of skillful Brighton forward Yves Bissouma, Southampton striker Moussa Djenepo, highly rated RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara  and Sheriff Tiraspol goal getter Adama Malouda who recently steered his side to a shocking 2-1 win over gianst Real Madrid in a Champions League clash at the Barnebeu.

The match will be played in Morocco because all the three big arenas in Mal, Modibo Keita, Centre Salif Keita and Bamako Municipal do not meet the required standards set by world football governing body Fifa.

Meanwhile, Harambee Stars arrived safely in Morocco and were expected to conduct their first training there last evening. The match will kick off at 10pm Kenyan time on Thursday.

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