Kenya begin their journey in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup against New Zealand on June 2nd in Mumbai. Currently ranked 111th in the FIFA rankings, The Harambee Stars are the second-highest ranked side in the competition after India.
Ahead of their first game, Kenyan assistant coach Francis Kimanzi stated that they are looking forward to this tournament as an exposure event for their young players.
He said, “We are a young side. We have filled this squad with local players because our league is still on. So it is an opportunity for the young players to rise to the occasion. Any country can challenge any other country in world football today. We watched the U-17 World Cup that was hosted in India and we found a young and talented side there. So the senior team can also pose a challenge for us, given the opportunity.”
Kimanzi continued, “We believe that for us to be competitive, we have to compete against good and strong teams like India, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei. So we have come here.”
He also said that Kenya’s most famous footballer, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama, could not travel to India due to injury. The assistant coach believes that despite several administrative issues faced, Kenya can produce more talents and improve.
“We have got our own administrative challenges. But we have very motivated players and staff. There is a lot of football-loving fans back at home. We have produced some good young talents like Wanyama who play in the Premier League. So I think those challenges have made us stronger and we have managed to overcome that. We are lucky to have an organised federation at the moment and with the Government's support we are happy to help the young players realise their dreams,” said Kimanzi.
Kenyan skipper Musa Mohammed said, “We are ready for the tournament. It is an opportunity for us to show what Kenya can do and it is a good preparation for us."
On asked if beating Equatorial Guinea just before this tournament will be a confidence booster for them, Musa replied, “Definitely. It will help our confidence. We would like to begin with a win. We have got extra motivation to come and play in this tournament.”