Kenya will be gracing the AFCON tournament for the sixth time in their history. They debuted in the 1972 edition, leaving the tournament with 2 draws and a defeat in round 1. The Harambee Stars got another chance to shine in 1988 and they went out again in round one with the same result as the first one.
They entered for the third time two years later and once again had the same result, a frustrating period for the side. Another chance came in 1992 and they lost both of their fixtures to seal an early flight home after multiple previous failures.
They last participated in the 2004 AFCON tournament in Tunisia and they once again exited in the group stages after winning once and drawing two times. They are now back after 15 years to break the unwanted record previously set.
The road of the Harambee Stars in qualification has not been simple in the past. Kenya had to wait for a decade and a half after the start of the AFCON competition to participate in it. They chose not to enter the 1957 and 1959 editions and failed to qualify for the subsequent ones until 1972.
They went on another frustrating run after their exit in their first appearance, having to wait another 16 years to make a second appearance. Kenya had a regular run for 6 years and then once again went into oblivion until 2004.
They have been absent since then and the 2019 AFCON will be their first since appearing in the 2004 edition. Kenya will hope to give their fans some joy in the coming weeks. Kenya is currently 23rd in Africa and tied with Libya at 105th on the FIFA rankings.
Sébastien Migné will be their head coach in this tournament. Sébastien has had some experience coaching African sides, initially taking the DR Congo U-20 head coach role. He also had a stint with the Congo national team from March 2017- 2018.
Sébastien was given the chance to manage the Kenyan national team on 3rd May 2018 and led the side through qualification.
Sébastien has a side that have played multiple games with each other and will have little problems fielding them in the AFCON. His main problem, however, will be the quality they possess, only Vincent Wanyama possesses enough quality in the current squad.
How they qualified
Kenya amassed 7 points in 4 matches to take second place in Group F. They managed to beat group winners Ghana in the first fixture (1-0) and lost to the Black Stars in the second one (0-1). Sébastien’s men claim 4 points from 6 against Ethiopia as well (3-0 and 0-0).
Who’s in their group?
Kenya were placed in Group C with Algeria, Senegal and Tanzania.
How have they fared against those teams in the past?
Algeria and Kenya are yet to decide the better team. The record so far stands at 3 wins apiece and a draw. The Harambee Stars are very familiar with Tanzania in the past, winning 20 and drawing 14 in 48 matches. Kenya are yet to beat Senegal after three meetings in the past, losing twice and drawing once.
The weight of the country’s hopes will fall on the shoulders of Vincent Wanyama. The defensive midfielder contributed to Tottenham’s surprising run to the final of the Champions League last season. He is one of the most experienced players in the lineup as well and will be tasked to lead them on the field as captain.
Player to watch
Michael Olunga is one of the players to keep an eye on in Egypt. Michael performed well in qualification, finding the net two times. Olunga already has 14 strikes for Kenya in 32 matches. The Kashwia Reysol forward will hope to impress in Egypt in the coming days.
Did you know?
Kenyans have a distinct way of dressing. Most of the traditional citizens wear the Maasai Shuka, red or pink or maroon clothing around their shoulders/waists/necks.
The most popular meal in Kenya is the “ugali”, made from flour. It can be maize, sorghum or even millet.
How far will they go?
Kenya have been underwhelming in previous AFCON tournaments and this will likely be no different. They will need a huge miracle to get past the likes of Senegal and Algeria.
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