Kick-off: Saturday 4 September, Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissau.
The Djurtus Can Be A Surprise Package
Guinea Bissau has never qualified for the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations or the World Cup before.
The team that plays its international matches at the Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissau has a non impressive record in continental football. The last time they participated in the AFCON qualifiers was in 2007 for the 2008 games that were held in Ghana. In their last group match, they drew 1-1 with Cape Verde. They had lost all their previous qualifier matches without scoring a single goal.
This is the kind of performance the team wants to erase as they open their 2012 AFCON qualifiers against Kenya on Saturday.
There is little known about the team because they have not even participated in friendly matches in the past few years. The present group of players in the team is a mix of African and European-based players, with quite a few based in the country’s former colonizers, Portugal.
Almami Moreira (FK Partizan, Serbia) and Basile de Carvalho (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgeria) are the two notable professionals who play in Europe.
A Loss For Harambee Stars Is Unthinkable
Harambee Stars missed the last AFCON championship by a whisker. But if they can put to rest some of the technical and financial problems that annually dog their preparations and participation, they can top Group J.
The team is currently blessed with a galaxy of stars, most of whom ply their trade in different European and American destinations.
Despite choosing only five European based players for the Guinea Bissau match, most Kenyans do not fathom the possibility of the team losing to the continental minnows who are ranked at the tail–end of the FIFA World rankings.
Harambee Stars head coach Twahir Muhhidin only summoned Macdonald Mariga of Inter Milan, Dennis Oliech of French club Auxerre, Moss FK goalkeeper Arnold Origi, Patrick Osiako (Mjallby, Sweden), and Robert Mambo (Umea FC, Sweden) for the Guinea Bissau clash.
But in the next home match against Uganda, the tactician will have more than twenty foreign based professionals to choose from besides the home based stars.
Kenya has in the past month played two international friendly matches to ready themselves for this encounter. A win in Bissau will not only boost Kenya’s morale, but it would enhance their qualification chances in a group that also has Uganda and Angola.
Head coach Norton de Matos has assembled many new players in the side, most of whom are based in Portugal. Most of the players in the squad of 21 called up have dual passports. At least 11 of the named players are, or have been part of Portugal U19 or U21 squads in the past.
Eder (Académica), Cícero (Rio Ave), Ivanildo (Portimonense), Kevin Gomis (Naval), Pele (Belenenses), Zezinho (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Banjai (Oliveirense), Bacari Baldé (FCP) e Germano Mendes (Valpaços), Danilo Pereira (ex-junior Benfica now at Parma). Eder (Academica), Cicero (Rio Ave), Ivanildo (Portimonense), Kevin Gomis (Naval), Pele (Belenenses), Dewey (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Banjai (Oliveirense) Bacari Baldé (FCP), Germano Mendes (Chaves ) and Danilo Pereira (ex-junior Benfica). Djibril Djassi (Benfica de Bissau) Flavian Nanqui (Santa Maria). Bucundji Cá (Tours), Pape Basse (Rennes),
Sana (Servette, former junior Benfica), José Monteiro Macedo (Hammarby), Bruno Fernandes (Urine Urziceni), Basile de Carvalho (Lokomotiv Plovdiv), Ednilson (Dynamo Tbilisi) Moreira (Partizan Belgrade), Aliu “Kaby” Djalo (Chelsea).
Kenyan head coach Twahir Muhiddin was spoiled for choice with more than ten foreign-based professionals fit and expecting a call-up to the team. But the tactician decided to call only five foreign based players who linked up with players plying their trade in the domestic league.
The tactician added new faces to the squad that played in the last AFCON qualifiers in 2009. They include John Baraza and Anthony Kimani of Sofapaka, Gor Mahia’s Kevin Omondi and George BlackBerry” Odhiambo and David Otieno of Sony Sugar.
Almost the entire defensive line of Anthony Kimani, Lloyd Wahome and Edgar Ochieng' that were unceremoniously discarded by former coach Antoine Hey in his catastrophic four-month reign last year have been reinstated.
Goalkeepers: Arnold Origi (Moss FK, Norway) & Wilson Obungu (Sofapaka)
Defenders: Lloyd Wahome & Anthony Kimani (both Mathare United), Edgar Ochieng & James Situma (both Sofapaka), Julius Owino (Gor Mahia) & David Otieno (Sony Sugar)
Midfielders: MacDonald Mariga (Inter Milan, Italy), Patrick Osiako (Mjallby, Sweden), George Odhiambo & Kevin Omondi (both Gor Mahia), Anthony “Muki” Kimani (Sofapaka), Robert Mambo (Umea FC, Sweden) & Levy Muaka (Nairobi City Stars)
Strikers: Dennis Oliech (AJ Auxerre, France), John Baraza & Allan Wanga (Sofapaka).
Kenya has an experienced side with players doing duty for clubs in Europe. The home-based players have also been active in the ongoing domestic league. The squad played together in an international friendly last month. A loss or even a draw, although they will be playing away is unlikely.
Guinea 0-3 Kenya
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