Stars duo Nyakeya, Juma pledge to make amends
When Harambee Stars plays Comoros in the rematch of their African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Sunday, only a win will be meaningful to the Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee led side.
A draw would mathematically keep Kenya in contention for the 2022 fiesta in Cameroon, but will leave them facing intense pressure to win the last two fixtures against Togo and Egypt.
For the psyche of the team towards the qualifiers homestretch in next year’s window, Mulee and his battalion are plotting to bag maximum points in Moroni against all odds.
FC Masr attacker Cliff Nyakeya who had an impressive outing against Comoros says Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Islanders at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani was like a defeat, but is buoyed by the command they had on their opponents ahead of the return leg.
“We are going to win, no doubt about it. We just have to check ourselves, we try to utilise the chances we will get and hopefully we will win. We are going to give our best for sure. We know we should have won the home match had we utilised the many chances we created in the second half, but we were unlucky. We got a point but it felt as if we lost,” said Nyakeya.
The first leg’s goal scorer Masoud Juma is equally undeterred, promising the mission to Moroni is simply to beat the Group G leaders.
“We are going there for three points, no doubt about it. I believe in what we are doing as a team. We should have won here (in Nairobi) but we were just unlucky despite creating so many chances to score. We just need support from all quarters, and we will deliver,” said Juma, beaming with confidence after breaking his goals jinx with the national team since scoring in the win against Zanzibar in the CECAFA Senior Challenge final in 2017.
While the Stars are going for nothing but a win, Comoros head coach Amir Abdou suggests he has lowered his expectations in the home match after the grueling Nairobi visit.
“I didn’t expect such a fierce battle, I think I underrated them (Kenya). We will not leave anything to chance in the rematch, but it will not be easy at all,” the 48 years old tactician who has been heading the Comoros technical bench since 2014 said.
With two slots available for AFCON from each group, both Stars and Comoros will be keenly following Egypt versus Togo who clash on Saturday in Cairo, with the Pharaohs welcoming back Mohammed Salah who missed the opening two matches due to injury.
Meanwhile, Stars will travel aboard a chartered flight on Saturday morning to Moroni and spend only a night ahead of the match.
No changes are expected in the squad, save for the update on centre-back Joash Onyango who missed Wednesday’s match under unclear circumstances.