By Bonface Osano,
The “Red Devils” of Congo Brazzaville will for the first time in history take on Kenya’s “Harambee Stars” in a football match to be played on Sunday at the Masamba Debut stadium in Brazzaville.
The two will lock horns in the AFCON 2017 qualifier that promises to evoke so much emotion.
Stars coach Bobby Williamson is hoping for a good start in the campaign despite the history and quality behind their Sunday opponents.
“Our Afcon race must start on a positive note and that has been my rallying call to players telling them the importance of the first game that will determine how we proceed,” He told Soka25east.com
Congo is currently 49th in the Coca-Cola FIFA rankings while Kenya is distant 123rd. While Kenya last appeared in the continental show piece in 2004 where they never made it past group stage, Congo featured in the last edition held in Equitorial Guinea early this year exiting in the quarter finals.
“We know the calibre of Congo but I am very
optimistic that we can upset the form book if not get a draw.
I have my game plan and the players have shown a lot of commitment that is why we
will not look at past glory on our opponents but to focus on the game.” Bobby added.
Congo Coach Claude Le Roy nicknamed “White witch doctor” is a man with vast experience in the Continent, the French man has handled many national teams with notable successes, he has been with Ghana, Cameron, DR Congo and now Congo Brazzaville, each time leading them to AFCON finals.
This gives him an edge over Bobby Williamson who is relatively new in the continental having previously worked with Uganda Cranes before joining Kenya team in 2014.
The two sides have had shoddy preparations ahead of the clash with Kenya team at one point failing to secure proper training ground and condusive accommodation.
Apart from poor facilities, the team also occasionally suffered lack of quorum in camp with majority of players concentrating with club assignment.
Harambee Stars took part in the Rwanda Memorial Cup last week where they drew nil nil against the hosts Rwanda before beating lowly ranked South Sudan 2-0.
Congo too had their fair share of troubles, “We’re in a tough qualifying group. We
only know Zambia from the last tournament but we know nothing about Kenya and Guinea Bissau”
“People expect us to keep the momentum and improve on our performance from the last Nations Cup but everything is disorganised the federation has not put things in order” Congo skipper Prince Oniangue stated.
Players to watch
Thievy Bifouma is a player Stars defenders will be tracking the entire match, the forward who plays for Español in Laliga has been sensational for the “Red Devils” ever since switching allegiance from France to Congo in August 2014, he boasts of five goals thus far.
The 23 years old striker has great pace with good eye for goal.
Michael Olunga who plays for Gor Mahia in the Kenyan Premier League could earn a starting role against Congo tomorrow, the lanky striker has been prolific for Gor scoring 8 times with several assists in the league, he scored a hat trick against Botswana in the CAF U23 qualifiers before scoring last week in the Rwanda Memorial Cup against South Sudan.
The team that wins tomorrow will for sure make history as the first side to register victory in the first ever meeting.
Harambee Stars probable lineup:
Defenders:Aboud Omar,David Ochieng,David Owino and Edwin Wafula
Midfielders;Victor Wanyama,Antony Akumu,Collins Okoth,Paul Were
Strikers;Allan Wanga and Michael Olunga
The match kickoffs at 1730 hrs EAT and will be LIVE on Supersport Channel 219.
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