11 August 2018 03:07
Kenya’s Junior Harambee Stars is hopeful of clinching the lone slot to play in next year’s African Under-17 Cup of Nations in Tanzania when the CECAFA region qualifiers kick off on Saturday at the National Stadium Dar es Salaam.
Having finished fourth last year in Bujumbura, Burundi, coach Michael Amenga is optimistic that they approach this year’s tournament with a better squad and will be in a position to challenge for the crown.
With Tanzania already assured of a slot as hosts, the remaining nine teams will square out for one slot to the continental championship.
“We have prepared very well because we have had a longer camp period and the team has gelled enough. Last year, we had just formed the Under-17 team and there were a lot of teething problems. But it’s different this time round and we also have a stronger team,” the tactician said.
Kenya is in Pool B with South Sudan, Djibouti, Uganda and Ethiopia and will start their campaign next Tuesday against South Sudan. A top two finish will guarantee them a spot in the semi-finals.
In the last CECAFA Under-17 Cup in Burundi last year, Kenya lost 4-1 to Uganda in the play off and drew 0-0 with Ethiopia in a group match.
Amenga believes the group will not be an easy one, but remains confident they will navigate through it and go all the way to the final.
“In Africa now, you can’t pick out a big team from a small team. Everyone is equal and everyone wants to win. It will be very tough but we have to work hard to get out of the group and most importantly top it. If we get to the final, I believe we will have that motivation to get the ticket to the Cup of Nations,” the tactician further said.
His sentiments were echoed by skipper Arnold Onyango who has affirmed the team will be going for nothing short of victory and pick a historic ticket to the Cup of Nations.
“We know that Kenya has never qualified for the Under-17 Cup of Nations and that is our motivation. We want to be the ones to make history and represent our country well. We expect a tough tournament but we have prepared adequately,” added the defender.
Kenya opens its account against South Sudan on Tuesday next week before facing Djibouti on Friday.
Kenya’s team to CECAFA
Maxwell Muilili (Mukumu Boys), Bixente Lazarazu (Kamukunji High School), Brian Olang’o (Kamukunji High School)
Telvin Maina (Laiser Hill Academy), Arnold Onyango (Laiser Hill Academy), Francis Kayugi (Laiser Hill Academy), Alphonce Omija (Babadogo Secondary Sch), Oscar Kamori (Koyonzo Boys), Richdonald Bolo (Homabay Secondary), Tony Castro Odhiambo (Butere Boys),
Saidi Musa (Eastleigh High School), Felix Chabaya (Brownhill Secondary), Nicholas Omondi (Soweto Baptist), Lesley Otieno (Sunflower Secondary), Hussein Abdulmalik (Mombasa Secondary), Keith Imbali (Eastleigh High School)
Mathew Mwendwa (Annointed High School), Ezekiel Mogendi (Bahati Secondary School).