2019 Afcon qualifiers: What Kenya must do to beat Ethiopia at home

Goal Kenya.
The last time Harambee Stars reached the Afcon finals was way back in 2004 in Tunis, Tunisia under coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee

Harambee Stars will face Ethiopia for the second time in four days knowing that a win will improve their chances of making it to the 2019 Afcon finals.

In the first leg played at Bahir Dar Stadium, Kenya withstood a tough second half surge by the home side pushed on by a full-to-capacity stadium to pick up a vital point, in a 0-0 draw, that pushed them closer to Cameroon.

Caf is yet to decide whether or not results picked by teams against Sierra Leone – who are serving a Fifa ban – will stand in the road to qualification, reason why Kenya must win their remaining matches, starting with the fixture against the Walya Antelopes at home.

As it stands in Group F, Kenya leads with four points after two matches, with Ghana coming second with three points and Ethiopia completes the table with just a single point.

The Kenyan government is also aware of what lies in store for the national team, and the Sports Ministry have announced the game will be free, meaning the fans have an opportunity to fill the stadium and cheer their team to glory and a possible return to the competition since 2004.

So what should the Sebastien Migne led side do to stop the Walya Antelopes from spoiling the party? 

Make use of home ground advantage

Harambee Stars fans at Kasarani.

Many teams crack under pressure from the away fans. Ethiopia maximized on the turnout on Wednesday and were just unlucky not to get maximum points. Kenyans are expected to fill the 60,000 sitter Kasarani Stadium and cheer the team. The best Stars can do is to take full advantage of the situation and put the visitors under immense pressure that will make them commit mistakes and concede. Sometimes, the support from the home fans can make even the worst sides perform, and with Kenya knowing that they are close to making it to Cameroon, that support should make them better.

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Use Victor Wanyama as a sub

The match against Walya Antelopes is not a trial, it is just like a final and the technical bench should make selection based on the current form of players. One of the players, who was not comfortable on Wednesday is captain Victor Wanyama. It is pretty obvious that the midfielder has not yet recovered fully from that knee injury, or maybe he has not returned to full fitness. If he has to play, then last few minutes will work for him, when Kenya is leading.

Go for an early goal

Michael Olunga of Kenya v Ghana.

An early goal has always worked magic for most teams because of the many advantages that come with it. Kenya is not an exception; they should do that as well. Why is that early goal important? It will definitely lower the chances of frustrations later into the match. That early goal will definitely give the team motivation and energy to get the second, meaning the visitors will be under pressure and will make mistakes.

Defend well as a unit

Ethiopia is known for slick passing when given time. They can use the wings effectively and create chances that can be capitalized on. That is where the defense comes in; the team has to defend as a unit and ensure they don't commit silly mistakes at the back. Any danger should be dealt with effectively. The defensive midfielder should also perform his duties well by providing cover to the defenders and the goalkeeper. When attacking, the team should not do that blindly as well; it must have a clear formula and structure that should be followed to the latter. Attacking blindly might expose the team to counter attacks, with a risk of conceding.