The long-awaited AFCON 2019 started on Friday night with hosts Egypt overcoming a stubborn Zimbabwe in a tricky match at a fully packed Cairo Stadium.
Two East African nations will be in action later today when Uganda faces DR Congo and Burundi tries to slay the mighty Nigerians. Former Harambee Stars Coach Paul Put will lead Guinea against Madagascar in the other match.
However, most Kenyans are counting only hours to Sunday’s clash between Harambee Stars and the Desert Foxes of Algeria. Coach Sebastien Migne’s side will come up against one of the pre-tournament favourites, led by pacy Manchester city Winger Riyad Mahrez who is fresh from winning a domestic treble with his club.
Migne has set out his teams to defend deeply. Indeed the Harambee Stars conceded only one goal in the qualifiers. But the coach will have tough choices to make going into this match following the injury of Brian Mandela, who was ruled out of the tournament. Zambia based defender Musa Mohammed is also struggling to be fit for the match after an injury in the friendly against Madagascar.
The burden to stop Mahrez and co will probably fall on the fearless Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango. Onyango has been the most talked about Kenyan player after his pictures donning a blonde beard went viral on social media. There was also a lot of talk about his age, which should be a non-issue at this moment.
The coach trusts Joash to get the job done. Joash came to the limelight after getting a straight red card in the 1-0 win against Ghana. The tackle that earned him the red card denied Ghana an open goal scoring chance and is partly the reason why we are in Egypt.
Musa Mohamed and Joash Onyango should be the next DPP and DCI respectively ,these guys understand how to defend public funds #HarambeeStars
— Consultantraph. (@consultantraph) March 23, 2019
Joash comes into the tournament as one of the most exposed Kenyan players having starred for Gor Mahia in the CAF Confederations Cup, where they knocked out Algerian side Na Hussein Dey.
He will probably partner Musa Mohammed at the heart of defence. Philemon Otieno will start at right-back, with the attack-minded Abud Omar will be tasked with providing cover at left back. Kenyans will hope to see the good side of Patrick Matasi, who despite saving two penalties in the past two matches, has also made costly errors leading to goals.
Kenya has conceded only two goals (Against Ghana and DR Congo) in the past six matches. All of them have been a result of Matasi’s errors.
Captain Victor Wanyama will shield the defence alongside Sofapaka’s Denis Odhiambo. Francis Kahata, Eric Johanna and Ayub Timbe will create the chances for Engineer Michael Olunga.
Youngsters Ovella Ochieng and John Avire may be brought in at some time to inject speed against Algeria’s tiring legs.
Kenya Vs Algeria Keny Facts
- North Africa is one of the most dreaded places for Kenyan teams except Algeria, where Kenya has enjoyed good fortunes compared to all the others. Harambee Stars have faced the Desert Foxes seven times; winning three matches, drawing one and losing the other three.
- The last time these two teams met was on 28th September 1997, where a Francis Were goal gifted Kenya a 1-0 win in a match played in Tanzania.
- Kenya’s women team Harambee Starlets knocked Algeria on away goals to qualify for their first and only AWCON tournament in 2016.
- Kenyan club Gor Mahia beat Algeria’s side Na Hussein Dey in last season’s CAF CC group stage. Francis Kahata scored in the match and will play a key role on Sunday.