• AFCON draw set for next month
• Jesse Were could be recalled as Wanga, Masoud, Olunga fail to impress
There was a lot of positives to take from Harambee Stars narrow 1-0 loss to Ghana in the final Group ‘F’ Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match played on Saturday at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana.
Harambee Stars, having already qualified for the continental showpiece set to kick off on June 19, 2019, in Egypt, came to the match needing at most a point to seal a top-of-the-table finish.
Resolute defending would see Stars head to the breather tied at 0-0. The hosts would, however, ask more questions in the second half and eventually broke the deadlock when Caleb Ekuban sped to his left and shot at the bottom right corner, the rather weak effort slipping past goalkeeper Patrick Matasi’s finger tips.
The result sees Ghana finish top of the group with nine points, two clear of Kenya. But as the nation now looks forward to the draw for the finals next month, several players — who just a year ago were not in the reckoning for the national team — are now more than certain to make the squad.
Joash Onyango, the rugged defender took no prisoners all night long and had it not been for Matasi's late error, would have deservedly shut out the Ghanaians. Others like Masoud Juma, despite having been isolated, will have to do more to show they deserve to be in the final squad that goes to pre-tournament camp in France come May.
With Chris Mbamba unavailable due to documentation issues, coach Sebastian Migne will now have to judge him on club form and his performances during the training sessions he had for the first time with the national team.
Jesse Were, whose omission riled many, will feel confident that he will remain an understudy to the leading man, Michael Olunga as neither of the three strikers taken to Accra ahead of him convinced.
Masoud, the unsettled striker, reportedly now in Libya, was unimpressive while Piston Mutamba and accomplished international Allan Wanga did not have a big enough opportunity to impress.
Meanwhile the Kenya U23 national team, the Emerging Stars, are back in camp ahead of the second leg of their Olympics Qualifier against Sudan.
The team held two training sessions on Saturday ahead of the match, which has been slated for tomorrow eveningat the Moi Stadium, Kasarani.