Harambee Stars will take on Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia in the Afcon qualifying match on Wednesday. The Sebastian Migne led side has so far managed to collect three points in Group F that has Ghana as well, who registered a 5-0 win against Ethiopia in the opener.
As it stands, Group F has only three teams; Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana. Sierra Leone have been banned from taking part in the qualifiers following government interference. This means that the 2-1 win against Kenya and the 1-0 loss to Ethiopia does not stand.
Until the West African minnows make things right, Group F will have only three teams, and that means only one team will go home, with the top two making it to Cameroon. So why is victory for Kenya against Ethiopia important?
The last time Harambee Stars made it to the Afcon finals was way back in 2004 in Tunisia under coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee. They went on to lose 3-1 to Mali, 3-0 to the hosts before defeating Burkina Faso by the same margin in their final Group match to end their campaign with maximum points.
This year, the East African side has a perfect chance of making it to the continental show piece. The national team needs just four points to make it to the finals set for next year. Already, they have managed to get three points against the toughest challengers in the Group, Ghana.
The match against Ethiopia is relatively easier as compared to the one against the Black Stars. Getting a win on Wednesday means Kenya will make their work easier ahead of the second leg set for the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday.
Beating Ghana away is definitely going to be a tough call for the Harambee Stars, and their realistic chance of getting those four points will be against Ethiopia. After back to back loses against Algeria and Mali respectively in 2014, Ethiopia have not lost at home in the Afcon Qualifiers.
They have won three of their five games since then; the wins have come against minnows Lesotho, Seychelles and Sierra Leone -who have since been banned from the competition. The two draws came against Mali and Algeria. If those statistics are anything to go by, it means that Kenya has a chance of getting something from their hosts.
Confidence is key in this qualifiers; if the Stars manages to get maximum points away, it will give the players belief that they can make it to the top. The last time the two teams faced each other it was in a friendly, in Nairobi and it ended one all.
This is a different competition, six points for Kenya will put them top of the table with two games remaining, and a real chance of qualification. Knowing that a point is what they will be looking for to qualify to the Afcon, the players will definitely give their best and enable them get their chance.
As it stands in the Fifa rankings, Kenya is placed in the 107th position as compared to Ethiopia who are ranked 149th. If Kenya wins, they have a slight chance of climbing higher, but Walya Antelopes will definitely shoot higher by managing to get maximum points.