27 days from today, Harambee stars kick will take to the field to face Alegria in what will be the team’s first match in the African Cup Of Nations Tournament since 2004, a clean 15 years ago! Sebastian Migne’s side is currently in a training Camp in Europe as preparation for the showpiece event gears up.
Ahead of the much-awaited tournament, we look at the 2 main issues the head coach has to address before the 30th of June when Harambee Stars first match is scheduled to take place in Egypt.
The Mane/Mahrez puzzle
Harambee Stars will come up against two World Class players in Egypt. One is Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez who spearheaded Leicester City’s miraculous English Premier League title win in 2016. The tricky winger has added another title when he signed for Pep Guardiola’ Manchester City last season. He is undoubtedly World Class and has the ability to decide matches on his own.
Senegal’s Sadio Mane is another top class forward that Sebastian Migne’s backline will have to deal with. Blessed with pace, physicality and the skills to match any player in the World, Sadio Mane will be a headache for George Owino and company.
Drafting a game plan that will nullify the danger posed by these two players has to be top on Migne’s agenda in France. Keeping Mane and Mahrez silent will go a long way in ensuring that Harambee Stars has a successful outing in Egypt.
Protagonists or Antagonists?
How Sebastian Migne approaches his first 3 matches at the tournament will be key to the team progressing past the group stages. Will the team be protagonists and impose Migne’s philosophy on the opponent or do we study the other teams and plan on how to nullify their strengths as the antagonists?
Against Ghana in the qualifiers, Migne opted for his team to sit back and absorb pressure while hitting the Black stars on the counter-attack. The approach yielded fruits as Harambee Stars got a 1-0 win at home and were unlucky to lose via the same scoreline in West Africa.
Both systems have their merits and disadvantages but it’s up to Migne to decide which one suits the team best, keeping in mind that there is simply no margin for error in Cairo.