Stars walk tight rope ahead of must win tie with Kilimanjaro


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/www.sportpicha.com

Kenya national football team Harambee Stars must win against Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars, when the two sides cross swords at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos this evening in theie final group ‘A’ match , or risk exiting the ongoing Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in group stage.

The puzzle head coach Paul Put has to unravel is converting the many chances his charges are creating, without actualising them into goals.

Stars have scored only two goals since the start of the tournament, both coming against eliminated Rwanda in the opening game.

Against guests Libya and group ‘A’ leaders, Zanzibar Heroes, Kenya registered barren draws putting Put under pressure to beat Tanzania, which he says can only happen if his strikers show ‘brilliance.’

“We have created a lot of chances, but scoring has been our major undoing. You can create chances but you need to be brilliant enough to make something out of them.

“We will definitely play to win without considering what happens in the other match (Libya versus Zanzibar) to be sure of a place in the semi finals,” Put said.

Libya have a chance of joining Zanzibar in the semis, if they win over the latter and Tanzania beats Kenya. Still, if Kenya draws and Libya wins with a big margin, goal difference could kick out the hosts from the tournament.

Madeem Muhanad (L) of Libya tackle Masoud Juma of Kenya Harambee Stars during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 against Libya at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on December 05, 2017.Photo/Oliver Ananda/Sportpicha.
(FILE)Madeem Muhanad (L) of Libya tackle Masoud Juma of Kenya Harambee Stars during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 against Libya at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on December 05, 2017.Photo/Oliver Ananda/Sportpicha.

Masoud Juma

Though it remains Puts secret whether lead striker Masoud Juma will feature in the match, it goes without saying his absence in the last two matches proved costly.

His shadow striker Kepha Aswani struggled to make any significant impact, exposing Kenya’s strikers drought that has been replicated in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).

None of the supporting cast George Odhiambo, Vincent Oburu and Chrispin Oduor has exhibited the potent attack instinct, leaving Put a worried man.

Juma, who netted 17 league goals in the just concluded KPL season and also found the mark in the competition’s opener against Rwanda, was injured during the match forcing his withdrawal.

Nothing to lose

Tanzania’s coach Ammy Kinje has nothing to lose in the clash as his side is already eliminated, making it further complicated for Kenya.

“We  will work to leave a mark in the tournament even as we go home. We can make a statement against Kenya, and I will need maximum concentration from my players.

“With no pressure at all since we are mathematically out, I expect a better show although home teams are always difficult to be beat,” he noted.

Before the two clash at 4:00PM EAT (+3GMT), Zanzibar and Libya will lock horns from 2:00pm with the Heroes seeking to cement a top spot finish.

With seven points, they can still surrender the number one spot if Kenya wins and they lose to Libya.

Head coach Hemed ‘Morocco’ Suleiman has warned his charges that there will be no room for complacency.

Harambee stars central striker Kepha Aswani reacts during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 match against Zanzibar at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on December 09, 2017.The match ended 0-0. Photo/Oliver Ananda/Sportpicha
Harambee stars central striker Kepha Aswani reacts during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 match against Zanzibar at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on December 09, 2017.The match ended 0-0. Photo/Oliver Ananda/Sportpicha

“Look, we only have a maximum of three more matches to play, if go up to the finals. The idea of relaxing to save energy for the semis is therefore not valid, we will play seeking to win. If God gives us another result, let it be after we have fought to the best of our ability,” he said.

Elsewhere at the Bukhungu Stadium, Kakamega, Burundi will wrap up the group ‘B’ business against South Sudan, seeking to win convincingly to top the group.

Sudan should be an easy target for Burundi after the previous two matches and conceding eight goals, scoring only one against champions Uganda.

Burundi have four points, and a win will take them two above Uganda who drew 1-1 with Ethiopia on Sunday to qualify for the semis.The match kicks off at 3:00PM.

 

Fixtures

Zanzibar v Libya (2pm, Machakos)

Kenya v Tanzania (4pm, Machakos)

Burundi v South Sudan (3PM, Kakamega.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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