Stars heroics against Ghana, Ethiopia evoke memories of 2004 Afcon
- Harambee Stars are on the verge of qualifying for 2019 African Cup of Nation (Afcon) in Yaoundé, Cameroon after winning 3-0 against Ethiopia ‘Walya Antelopes’ on Sunday at Kasarani.
- Migne straightforwardly said not even the reinstatement of the West African country in the race to Cameroon can dim his Stars
- In 2003, Stars then under the tutelage of Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, topped a group that had Togo, Cape Verde and Mauritania, with 13 points courtesy of four wins, a draw and a loss to qualify.
Harambee Stars are on the verge of qualifying for 2019 African Cup of Nation (Afcon) in Yaoundé, Cameroon after winning 3-0 against Ethiopia ‘Walya Antelopes’ on Sunday at Kasarani.
In 2003, Stars then under the tutelage of Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, topped a group that had Togo, Cape Verde and Mauritania, with 13 points courtesy of four wins, a draw and a loss to qualify.
Notably, Stars won all the home matches, won and drew one away, losing only to Togo in Lome.
The Stars of the day, marshaled by Captain Musa Otieno, ace strikers Dennis Oliech and John Baraza, mercurial midfielders John ‘Mo’ Muiruri and Titus Mulama among others, humbled all the visiting team including a phenomenal 3-0 mauling of Togo.
Mauritania was not lucky too; sinking 4-0 in Nairobi while Cape Verde were the casualties of home and away loss to Kenya, a 1-0 and 2-1 respectively.
Camaraderie in the camp, longevity of one-team-factor, a commanding coach and an insatiable thirst for continental glory was evident throughout the campaign.
It was capped all with Oliech’s stunner at the Nyayo National Stadium against Cape Verde, after a fine cross from Mulama to fire Stars to their fourth Afcon.
Fourteen years down the line, the dream to dazzle again in the continental arena appears inevitable, with replication of such events of 2003.
Only a loss so far to Sierra Leone in the Group F of the Afcon qualifiers has denied all the points in a match, followed by phenomenal wins against Ghana and Ethiopia at home. A draw away to Ethiopia counted; Stars are tracing their way back to the biggest African football showpiece.
Stars are top of the table with seven points, and with Sierra Leone indefinitely suspended by world football governing body, Kenya is almost sure of a Cameroon berth.
In case the suspension against Sierra Leone is upheld, Kenya will qualify for competition with a game in hand against the Black Stars of Ghana but if the former are reinstated, a point will be enough for Sebastian Migne’s side from the two remaining matches.
The only game
Immediately after silencing Ethiopia 3-0, Stars left-back Aboud Omar said that the possibility of qualifying is at 99 percent. His statement, as echoed by his teammates, underscored the confidence is finally creeping back, noting the enthusiasm by fans who filled the stadium to the rafters was key.
“For the last six years I have featured for Stars, this is the only game fans have come out in large numbers to support the team. With this kind of support you cannot afford to disappoint,” said Omar.
Tusker FC Goalkeeper Patrick Matasi could not hide his joy after yet another clean sheet, avoiding conceding any goal since taking over from Gor’s Boniface Oluoch after the Sierra Leone loss.
“Every keeper loves a clean sheet which shows we played well and defended well and controlled the whole game,” said Matasi.
Kashiwa Reysol striker Michael Olunga called on the government to continue supporting the team, pledging work for more wins.
“Our strategy worked out for us, we needed a point away and a win at home and that’s what we got to boost our chances to play in Cameroon. We can do this even more, with the support that we have seen today,” he offered.
Captain Victor Wanyama could not agree more: “The energy demonstrated by fans gave us more energy to move forward and create and score goal. All the goals were fantastic but the fans amazed me,” averred the Tottenham Hotspur midfield icon.
Deputy President William Ruto who committed the government to giving the players a whopping Ksh. 50 million has assured the team more support, all the way to the Cameroon finals.
“Today (Sunday) you have brought back our past glory in football. The government will be a key figure in the development and transformation of football in the Country. We do not stop here, we will support this course to the end.”
While the support from the stakeholders appears to have provoked gods to smile broadly to Stars, a delegation from Sierra Leone led by the Vice President and Attorney General is seeking peace with FIFA to be recalled to the qualifiers.
However, Migne straightforwardly said not even the reinstatement of the West African country in the race to Cameroon can dim his Stars.
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