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February 20, 2019

Stars hope to stop visiting Ghanaians

Harambee Stars’ Musa Mohammed in action against Tanzania’s Daniel Lyanga in recent international friendly match / OLIVER MORGAN
Harambee Stars’ Musa Mohammed in action against Tanzania’s Daniel Lyanga in recent international friendly match / OLIVER MORGAN
Injury hit Harambee Stars will reignite their fading 2019 African Cup of Nations dream against pre-match favourites and Pool ‘F’ toppers Ghana today at Moi Stadium,  Kasarani.
Kenya will be eying their second win against the West African country whom they have confronted seven times— losing four times, drawing twice and recording a rare 3-1 win once in 2003.
The win-less homeboys are third in the pool, having lost their first preliminary match 2-1 to Sierra Leone last year. Stars will be out to pick their first win in the pool against the visiting Black Stars who showed their intentions of returning to continental football after one year absence by hitting Ethiopia 5-0 in their opening match.
It will be Sebastien Migne’s first Fifa and Caf sanctioned match. The Frenchman remains frustrated by the absence of skipper Victor Wanyama, who did not turn up,  thanks to lack of match fitness after months on the sidelines. Assistant captain David “Calabar” Owino and deadly forward Jesse Were are also nursing thigh injuries.
The two have been in camp for the last five days where Calabar reportedly aggravated his injury on Thursday and consequently sat out of the yesterday’s training session. His absence will be a big blow to the defence with his preferred pair Brian Mandela suspended for the match. On the other hand, Were was unfortunate to bear the brunt of a tackle from a teammate in the camp but he was part of the team that trained yesterday.
Depsite missing Calabar in the heart of the defence, Migne will be reprieved to have the quartet of David Ochieng, Joseph Okumu, Joash Onyango and Bernard Ochieng to provide cover even though the four lack continental experience.
The youthful coach is set to summon his best for the match and unlike in the defence where he faces a task of replacing the Calabar-Mandela axis, the rest of the departments have fully fit players.
Migne also faces dilemma in selecting the best goalkeeper from the trio of Patrick Matasi, Ian Otieno and Farouk Sikhalo who have arguably had their best seasons thus far though Matasi starts favourite, owing to his experience. Posta Rangers hardman Jockins Atudo and Abud Khamis may be roped in as the fullbacks while Anthony Akumu will fill Wanyama’s shoes.
Johanna Omollo and Erick Johanna are likely to partner in the central midfield while Francis Kahata and Ovella Ochieng will be deployed at the flanks. Michael Olunga will retain his centre forward roles. The visiting team, who have kept a low profile since their arrival, are set to unleash their best in a bid to extend their stay at the top of the standings and return to the African gala after missing out in the 2017 finals staged in Gabon. The star-studded Ghana boasts of several stars and head coach Kwesi Appiah will be elated to have both experienced and young players at his disposal.
Stars will have a big task in caging the marauding Ghanians who have Atletico Madrid star Thomas Partey, Leicester City’s centre half Daniel Armatey and Newcastle’s winger Christian Atsu on their mix. The match will also see Ghana’s right back Harrison Afful return to Kenya having faced Gor Mahia in 2015 while plying his trade with Esperance of Tunisia in the Caf Champions League.
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