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Putting cards close to the chest

By Charles Thuku
Thursday, November 5th, 2020
Harambee Stars fan Isaac Juma (left) argues with security personel when Stars played against Comoros in a World Cup qualifier in Moroni in 2014. Photo/PD/SPORTPICHA
In summary

Comoros national soccer team coach Amir Abdou has named a 23-man squad that is predominantly weaved around professional players ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying first leg encounter against Harambee Stars in Kasarani next Wednesday.

The last time Comoros played Kenya was in an international friendly in Marrakech, Morocco in March 2018 which ended 2-2 and among the players still present are Youssef Mchangama of French side EA Guikamp and Chamad Nasser who plays for Gaz Meta in Romania.

Others are midfield workhorse Said Bakari Djmel who features for RKC Waalwjik in Netherlands and striker Faiz Mattoir of AC Ajaccio of France that was once home to retired Kenyan international Dennis Oliech. 

Despite the fact that most of Les Coelacantes players ply their trade in lower European leagues, the team is expected to draw great inspiration from experienced striker El Fardou Ben Nabouhane of Serbian club Red Star Belgrade.

Abdou was quoted in a Fifa portal as downplaying what appears a disadvantage by the islanders ahead of the two-legged qualifier. 

“You don’t need to have amazing players. If you’ve got a healthy and a hard-working group of players and you don’t have any problems with egos, then you can get the same results as any dream team,” said Abdou whose team had yet to send its travel itinerary to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) by yesterday.

He added: “If you look at our performances, and with the exception of the 3-0 defeat to Cameroon in the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, we’ve always given as good as we’ve got against the teams we’ve faced.

We’ve lost a few games but we’ve made life difficult for all of them. We play to our strengths: Discipline, organisation and a fantastic team spirit.”

Comoros started their campaign in Grpup G with a shock 1-0 win over Togo in Lome, KV Courtai FC striker Faiz Selemani scoring the lone goal in the 50th minute to silence Togolese fans.

They  followed it up with yet another impressive display against Egypt by holding the Pharaohs 0-0 in Moroni to all but send a statement of intent in the qualifiers.

It is against this background that Stars deputy coach Twahir Muhiddin yesterday reiterated his earlier call for Kenya to treat the match with the seriousness it deserves.

“I expect them to come with their guns blazing and having stopped big teams like Egypt and Togo, Kenya should be extra cautious. But all in all, we have a capacity of beating them,” said Muhiddin.

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