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Kenya can beat Group E opponents, qualify for final round of WC: Coach

By James Magayi
Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
Michael Olunga.
In summary

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi has expressed optimism of successfully steering the team through the 2022 World Cup group stage qualifiers after weighing Kenya’s opponents from the draw conducted by CAF on Tuesday night.

Kenya evaded African giants as they landed in Group E alongside Mali, Uganda and Rwanda.

The absence of Carthage nations among Kenya’s opponents raised expectations, which the tactician shared with People Sport yesterday.

“Toping that pool is doable. I’ve looked at them and knowing the caliber of players we have, I’m so confident that it is possible. In fact, I’m looking forward to the start of the games,” said Kimanzi.

Kimanzi is wary of the gains made by the group’s lowest ranked side Rwanda as well as West Africans Mali but is bullish nonetheless.

“I have a lot of data about Mali which is the top seed in our group and I can tell you they are beatable.

The biggest hurdle is Uganda and that is just because of the existing rivalries that date back decades,” he added. 

Hailed as the most qualified coach among local tacticians, Kimanzi has previously masterminded commendable feats with the national team and believes he can achieve even bigger.

However, a half-hearted commitment from Football Kenya Federation (FKF) could render the country’s most feasible chance in recent years a cropper as witnessed in last December’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda where Kimanzi protested while the federation maintained indifference.

Kimanzi, who was assistant under Paul Put and Sebastian Migne, was bewildered at the sheer disinterest in motivating the national team during the last edition of CECAFA and his charges crashed out at the semi-final stage against expectations after losing 4-1 to Eritrea.

“While we have personnel on the technical bench and playing unit capable of realising what everyone dreams of, we must make very good preparations and adequately motivate the players.

Home matches are key in such qualifiers so the federation must come up with a way to get the 12th man in the stadium to cheer the team,” Kimanzi offered.

“We saw what happened when we needed to beat Ethiopia at home and fans were allowed in the stadium.

We did not play so well but the fans pushed us to achieve the victory. Other nations do it and so can wen,” he said. 

Kenya will play the first game at home to Uganda as Rwanda host Mali and Kimanzi wants the game to be prioritised by both the government and FKF. 

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