Kenya will today (Sunday) take on The Fennecs of Algeria in their opening Group C match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
History will be made when the Harambee Stars take to the field at 30 June Stadium in the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt from 11.00pm Kenyan time as it will mark their return to the continental championship in 15 years.
Stars’ last match at the grandest stage of African football was on 2 February 2004 when they beat Burkina Faso 3-0 in their final Group B match of the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia.
Three second half goals from Emmanuel Ake, Dennis Oliech and John Baraza ensured Stars bowed out of the meet on a high after losing to Mali and Senegal on the bounce.
Much will be expected of the homeboys tonight especially after being accorded one of the best preparations in recent times but head coach Sebastien Migné is taking pressure off their shoulders.
“We are happy to be here, we are under no pressure, we would have been under pressure if we stayed at home,” said Migné.
The Frenchman, who praised his players for their discipline, is expecting a surprise in today’s match against the star – studded Fennecs, which boasts big names like Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
“My players have showed me a lot of surprises and I’m sure they will not stop surprising me.”
Stars skipper Victor Wanyama will be called up to lead from the front and give his best for the team. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has sometimes come under fire with some observers offering that he doesn’t give the national team his all as he does for club.
“I’m ready to give my best for the team as I’ve always done to make sure the team benefits,” Wanyama said.
Ahead of the tournament, Kenya camped in Paris, France for three weeks. They played two warm up matches, beating Madagascar 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with the DRC.
In both matches, Stars’ first choice keeper Patrick Matasi conceded penalties but ended up saving all. He also failed to firmly hold onto the ball leading to the DRC late equalizer but Migné says there’s no cause for alarm.
“When one player commits a mistake it’s a mistake for the whole team. I don’t think we have a goalkeeping concern.”
Probable Line Up
Patrick Matasi (GK)
Victor Wanyama (C)