Mozambique boss Xavier tips Kenya for success

Harambee Stars players during their evening training session at the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on November 9, 2016. ...
(FILE)Harambee Stars players during their evening training session at the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on November 9, 2016. Stars are preparing for International friendly match against Mozambique on November 12, 2016. Photo/Oliver Ananda/

Mozambique national team Head Coach Abel Xavier has tipped Kenya to grow into one of the biggest football nations in the continent ahead of their friendly match against Harambee Stars on Saturday.

The former Portugal international lauded the structures in place under First Coach Stanley Okumbi saying youngsters have been allowed to thrive and if molded well they could usher in a generation of success the country has long craved.

The flamboyant retired defender who enjoyed over a decade playing in the top five leagues in the world including English Premier League sides and Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton FC and later a two-year stint at Middlesbrough added that the country is blessed with gifted players but is yet to find its feet as a team.

“If you consider the composition of the Kenyan players, you can easily tell it’s a country that is looking into the future; it’s a new set-up and a very youthful one,” Xavier told Citizen Digital.

Xavier – who was capped 20 times for the Portugal since making his debut in 1993 – however warned that he has brought an equally youthful and competitive side ready to make their mark for the Mambas.

“We’re here to win and to show our capacity against a country which is gradually improving and appreciating the game more. We know it’s just a friendly but in the competitive football there are no friendly games.

“Most of the lads are new in the team but they want to show and impose everything we’ve learnt together. It’s a very significant match for them because for them it’s the chance to represent their country,” Xavier cautioned.

Captain Elias Pelembe simply known as Domingues echoed the boss adding the Mambas – who rank ten places below Kenya in the latest FIFA rankings – have great respect for Stars but Xavier has instilled in them a winning mentality as they focus on imposing their game.

“The team has been preparing well; playing away is always tough so we came here prepared for the challenge. We just want to play our game and see what happens.

“We’re missing because we have a big squad and I believe the guys here are going to get the job done. We know the opponent is good but we don’t get intimidated because the only worry we have is that of ourselves and how good we can play tomorrow.

“There is never a match we don’t take seriously so this is equally important. We’re going to keep focusing the same way we have been in all our games and hopefully we can get the early goal and make the fewer mistakes,” the South Afric Premier Soccer League Bidvest Wits midfielder stated.

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