Kimanzi calm as Stars aim to walk past Eritrea’s Red Sea Boys
Jacob Icia in Kampala
Head coach Francis Kimanzi is not taking any chances as he leads his charges to a potentially bruising duel against Red Sea Boys of Eritrea in a Cecafa semifinal clash this afternoon in Kampala.
Kimanzi, who returns to the touchline in the first semifinal match of the ongoing championship in Kampala after serving a two-match ban, has told his players to remain focused and humble despite cruising to the stage by winning all the group matches.
In their Monday training session at the St. Kizito Namugongo Secondary School, Kampala, Kimanzi said Eritrea’s qualification to the last four tells a lot about the team’s quality.
“Of course every team in the semifinal wants to get to the next 90 minutes. It will therefore be a very tough match because they (Eritrea) are there(semis) by merit.
“I’m sure they will give it their best, we will also have to give it our best. The team that is luckier in the tournament will be the winner of the semifinal,” Kimanzi observed.
On his squad, the Dutch trained tactician noted that a number of his players had knocks and needed assessment after the last training session, although all the players were active in the Monday session.
His assistant Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, who was on the touchline against Sudan and Zanzibar on his behalf, said the 100 percent record so far is a motivation to the team.
“The feeling definitely is nice, we feel nice but one thing we are keen on is to put our feet on the ground and remain focused. As much as we have gotten nine points we cannot over celebrate, we know we still have two big matches. Concentration is now on the semifinal and we hope to play in the final,” said Zico, the man largely respected for his fine defensive tactics.
The Eritrean team Kenya will be facing has eight players from the Under-20 team, which Kenya’s junior side, the Rising Stars beat 1-0 in the October 2019 in the CECAFA junior competition held in Jinja, Uganda.
Notably, it was the Sea Boys head coach Efrem Haile who led the youth side against Kenya, but only had a glimpse of Wazito FC’s Musa Masika and Daniel Sakari of Kariobangi Sharks, and as such does not have in-depth knowledge of the team that he will be facing this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Uganda Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry has conceded it will be a tall order to knockout Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars, in the second semifinal set for 4pm.
Despite amassing a whopping 12 points enroute to the semis, the Irish says Tanzania has historically proved to be a hard nut to crack for Cranes.
“It will be my first time for me to lead Uganda against Tanzania, but a lot of Ugandans have told me it is always a bogey team, difficult to beat no matter how good you are. They have also shown quality in the group stage and that is why they have only lost once,” said McKinstry.
His opposite number Juma Mgunda noted a knockout match could go either way, paying less attention to the Ugandan’s home-ground factor.
“They (Uganda) are an overall good team, but what matters is how we approach them. We have played them many times recently, so we know to expect from them. We have a strategy and we want to play in the final,” said Mgunda.
Tanzania only lost to Kenya falling 0-1, in the group matches concluded on Sunday.