The long-awaited AFCON 2019 started on Friday night with hosts Egypt overcoming a stubborn Zimbabwe in a tricky match at a fully packed Cairo Stadium.
Two East African nations were in action yesterday with Uganda beating DR Congo 2-0. Headers from Emmanuel Okwi and Patrick Kaddu gave Uganda Cranes a win of it’s kind that sent them top of Group A.
Burundi on the other hand fell 1-0 to the Super Eagles of Nigeria courtesy of a Late Ighalo Goal. Former Harambee Stars Coach Paul Put led Guinea against Madagascar in the other match that ended 2-2.
Away from Saturday Matches, most Kenyans are counting hours to Sunday’s clash between Harambee Stars and the Desert Foxes of Algeria. Coach Sebastien Migne’s side will come up against one of the pre-tournament favourites, led by pacy Manchester city Winger Riyad Mahrez who is fresh from winning a domestic treble with his club.
Migne has set out his teams to defend deeply. Indeed the Harambee Stars conceded only one goal in the qualifiers. But the coach will have tough choices to make going into this match following an injury to Brian Mandela, who was ruled out of the tournament. Zambia based defender Musa Mohammed is also struggling to be fit for the match after an injury in the friendly win against Madagascar in Paris, France.
The burden to stop Mahrez and co will probably fall on the fearless Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango. Onyango has been the most talked about Kenyan player after his pictures donning a blonde beard went viral on social media. There was also a lot of talk about his age, which should be a non-issue at this moment.
The coach trusts Joash to get the job done. Joash came to the limelight after getting a straight red card in the 1-0 win against Ghana. The tackle that earned him the red card denied Ghana an open goal scoring chance and is partly the reason why we are in Egypt.
Joash comes into the tournament as one of the most exposed Kenyan players having starred for Gor Mahia in the CAF Confederations Cup, where they knocked out Algerian side Na Hussein Dey.
He will probably partner Musa Mohammed at the heart of defence. Philemon Otieno will start at right-back, while the attack-minded Abud Omar will be tasked with providing cover at left back. Kenyans will hope to see the good side of Patrick Matasi, who despite saving two penalties in the past two matches, has also made costly errors leading to goals.
Kenya has conceded only two goals (Against Ghana and DR Congo) in the past six matches. All of them have been a result of Matasi’s errors.
Captain Victor Wanyama will shield the defence alongside Sofapaka’s Denis Odhiambo. Francis Kahata, Eric Johanna and Ayub Timbe will create the chances for Engineer Michael Olunga.
Youngsters Ovella Ochieng and John Avire may be brought in at some time to inject speed against Algeria’s tiring legs.
Kenya Vs Algeria Keny Facts
- North Africa is one of the most dreaded places for Kenyan teams except Algeria, where Kenya has enjoyed good fortunes compared to all the others. Harambee Stars have faced the Desert Foxes seven times; winning three matches, drawing one and losing the other three.
- The last time these two teams met was on 28th September 1997, where a Francis Were goal gifted Kenya a 1-0 win in a match played in Tanzania.
- Kenya’s women team Harambee Starlets knocked Algeria on away goals to qualify for their first and only AWCON tournament in 2016.
- Kenyan club Gor Mahia beat Algeria’s side Na Hussein Dey in last season’s CAF CC group stage. Francis Kahata scored in the match and will play a key role on Sunday.
Story by: Charles Chepsikor//@CChepsikor