- Goal Kenya.
Sebastien Migne’s side have been handed a tough draw, and they have their work cut out to progress to the knockout stages. Nonetheless, after a strong qualifying campaign, the East Africans will be quietly confident that they can squeeze into the knockouts.
Here’s the low-down on the Harambee Stars’ three Group C opponents.
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Fifa Ranking: 23 (one in Africa)
How they qualified: Topped Group A, going unbeaten and conceding just twice. Their only setback was a draw away in Madagascar, a game overshadowed by a deadly stadium stampede.
Nations Cup pedigree: Africa’s biggest side to never win the title, Senegal’s greatest ever team were defeated finalists in 2002, only months before reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.
Coach: Aliou Cisse is a former Senegal midfielder, and was part of the Teranga Lions side that dazzled in Japan and South Korea 2002. As coach, he qualified the West Africans to the 2018 World Cup—their first since 2002.
Star Player: Sadio Mane headlines a talented squad and, having scored 17 goals already in the Premier League this term, he has the quality to fire the Lions deep into the tournament.
- Goal Tanzania
Fifa Ranking: 131 (36 in Africa)
How they qualified: They didn’t set Group L alight as the team took their time to fully adapt to Emmanuel Amuneke’s methods, but they eventually ended their near 40-year wait for Afcon qualification with a final-day 3-0 victory over previously imperious Uganda.
Nations Cup pedigree: Have only one previous showing in the tournament—a first-round exit in 1980.
Coach: Amuneke is one of Nigeria’s greatest players, and was a Nations Cup winner in 1994. He’s quickly earned hero status in East Africa after securing long-awaited qualification.
Star Player: Mbwana Samatta is the headline act for the Taifa Stars. He earned his stripes in his homeland with Simba SC before proving himself on a higher stage with Tout Puissant Mazembe. He’s currently with KRC Genk, and alongside Simon Msuva, will represent a dangerous prospect for Kenya.
Fifa Ranking: 70 (13 in Africa)
How they qualified: They were troubled by The Gambia, failing to beat the minnows home or away, but still qualified as Group D winners.
Nations Cup pedigree: Winners in 1990, where Rabah Madjer, Taher Cherif El-Ouazzani and Djamel Menad inspired Les Fennecs to the continental crown.
Coach: Djamel Belmadi was appointed in August 2018 with the target of restoring the North Africans to their former glory following the muddled tenures of Christian Gourcuff, Milovan Rajevac, Georges Leekens, Lucas Alcaraz and Madjer.
Star Player: There are plenty of options, but Riyad Mahrez, who’s still chasing a quadruple with Manchester City, is the pick of a talented crop of offensive options.