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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

History of the Harambee Stars at Afcon as they head for 2019 finals in Egypt

4:48 PM IST 10/04/19
Kenya and Harambee Stars squad v Ethiopia.
Ahead of the 2019 Afcon draw on Friday, Goal rekindles the memories of how Kenya fared at the tournament

Kenya ended a 15-year wait to qualify for the 2019 Afcon finals, which takes place in Egypt in June and July, after finishing second in Group F below Ghana in qualification.

The 2019 edition of the continental showpiece will mark Kenya's sixth appearance in the competition, having featured in 1972, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 2004.

The Harambee Stars have never progressed to the knockout stage of the competition in their five previous appearances.

Kenya, in their maiden appearance 47 years ago, were grouped with hosts Cameroon, Mali and Togo in Group A. The tournament comprised of eight participants with Kenya and Sudan representing what is now the Cecafa region.

     Kenya qualified under coach Sebastien Migne.

Kenya played their first match against Cameroon and fell to a Jean-Baptiste N'Doga double, scored in the seventh and 20th minutes of the match.

Kenya responded with a strike from Niva Jonathan in the 44th minute but eventually lost the match 2-1 having failed to equalise in the second half.

The next Group match was something of a must-win clash for the Stars, but they only managed a 1-1 draw against Mali with Niva once more scoring in the 60th minute to ensure Kenya picked up its first ever Afcon point. Fantamady Keita, who scored in Mali’s opener against Togo, was the scorer again against Kenya.

Sebastien Migne's side then failed to win the next group match against Togo, drawing 1-1, a result which sealed their exit fate in the championship.

Peter Ouma was Kenya’s scorer while Togo found the net courtesy of Edmond Kaolo. Kenya finished third with two points, with Cameroon and Mali progressing to the semis.

     Kenya finished second in Group F behind Ghana.

The Harambee Stars re-appeared in the finals in 1988 in Egypt and this time around found themselves in a very difficult Group B, which included Nigeria, Egypt, and Cameroon.

The Harambee Stars finished bottom of that group with just a point to their name.

With 33 minutes gone against the Super Eagles, they were down 3-0 as goals from Rashidi Yekini (6’), Humphrey Edobor (13’) and Dubuis Ekosieme buried Kenya's hopes of leaving a mark on the continent's footballing map that year.

Another 3-0 defeat came in the second match against the Pharaoh’s and this time at least, the capitulation only occurred in the second half.

A double from Gamal Abdelhamid (2’), (65’) and a final goal from Ayman Younes two minutes later all but buried Kenya’s hopes of progressing into the knockout stage. The last Group B match  against Cameroon ended 0-0.

The 1990 finals were hosted in the North again with Algeria emerging the victors over Nigeria on home soil. The competition also comprised of eight teams and Kenya were ready to go once more.

 Once again Kenya were pooled alongside Cameroon, while Zambia and Senegal were the other two opponents.

   Jacob Mulee was Kenya coach at Afcon in 2004.

After two defeats (to Zambia and Cameroon), Kenya were destined for the early exit once more. The Harambee Stars only picked up a point from a 0-0 draw against Senegal, after a 1-0 loss to Zambia (Linos Makwaza 40’) and a 2-0 loss to Cameroon (a double from Emmanuel Maboanga 28’ & 69’).

They finished bottom of the group and failed to score even a single goal as Zambia and Senegal progressed to the penultimate stage.
Four teams were added in 1992, with 12 teams participating in Senegal and Ivory Coast emerging the final victors. Kenya were among the competitors again and after the 1988 and 1990 humiliations they were there ready and daring to dream once more.

With the expansion of the competition, three teams were pooled together with the top two progressing. Kenya lost the opening match 3-0 to Nigeria. Rashidi Yekini bagged a pair of goals (7’ & 15’) and Mickey Weche converted a late penalty as Nigeria sunk Kenya.

The second match against Senegal was even more humiliating as the Stars went down 3-0 to the Teranga Lions. Souleymane Sane scored the opening goal (46’), followed by Jules Bocande (68’) and finally Victor Diagne (88’). Bottom of the table and with no points, Kenya bowed out once more.

    Dennis Oliech scored as Kenya beat Burkina Faso.

A 12-year waiting period followed and the Harambee Stars had to wait until 2004 to make a grand return to the Afcon stage.

Kenya, under Jacob Mulee, qualified for the Tunisia-held finals with the country's all-time top scorer, Dennis Oliech, leading the team. Kenya, in Group B, were pooled alongside opponents from the West once more, just like in their debut campaign.

In the opening match, Kenya lost to Mali 3-1, with Mohamed Sissoko opening the score in the 28th minute. A double from Frederic Kanoute (63’ & 81’) sealed the victory for Mali and Titus Mulama opened his Afcon goal account with the sole strike for Kenya.

Another beating waited for the East African Nation in the second match against Senegal as they went down 3-0. Mamadou Niang (4’ & 31’) and Pape Bouba Diop (18’) prolonged Kenya’s wait for a victory and progress in the continents football competition.

Kenya, in a dead rubber encounter, saw off Burkina Faso 3-0 with Emanuel Ake, Dennis Oliech and John Baraza giving Kenya the win, but they exited the competition nonetheless.