Afcon 2019: Joash Onyango: Gor Mahia Caf experience a morale-boost ahead of Algeria opener

Joash Onyango of Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars.
Onyango is likely to feature at the centre of defence after Brian Mandela was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury

Harambee Stars defender Joash Onyango has revealed that his participation with Gor Mahia in Caf tournaments will help him in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) opener against Algeria.

Gor Mahia faced Morocco's RS Berkane and Zamalek of Egypt last season in the Confederation Cup and Onyango would bank on that experience if he is picked for Harambee Stars' starting team against the Desert Warriors.

"Playing with my club against the Arab opponents has given me valuable experience in my career. I have the confidence to face opponents from the Arab part of Africa. You find more players from the north are the same who play for their national teams and a good example is with Zamalek and Egypt national team," Onyango told reporters at Kenya's team base.

"Algeria is an Arab opponent and I know the kind of a rival to expect from them, I know the team is ready and I am also ready to face Algeria on Sunday."

Onyango, who earned his first call up under Sebastien Migne also revisited Kenya's Afcon qualification process in Group F where Ghana, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone were opponents.

"Qualification for Kenya has been a long journey considering how we started the first match against Sierra Leone which we unfortunately lost (Kenya lost 2-1)," said Onyango.

The former Western Stima defender first appeared for Harambee Stars in the friendly matches against Swaziland and Guinea, two matches that were played at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos.

"Migne came and assembled a team he felt that will help him in the course of qualifications. He has done a good job in helping the foreign-based and local-based players bond together and that unity was the biggest contributing factor in our home win against Ghana," he said.

"I was happy with the first call up since it had become very hard to earn one when local coaches were in charge of Harambee Stars. When I was called up to play against Ghana I also promised that I was going to work very hard and justify my place."

Onyango was also surprised to be picked for the Ghana match at Kasarani ahead of regular defenders.

"What never crossed my mind is that I was going to be part of the starting XI against Ghana. I never thought about it at all. David Owino, David Ochieng and Musa Mohamed had been regular Stars defenders and I thought it was hard for me to make into the starting squad," he revealed.

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Kenya will play Algeria, Tanzania and Senegal in Group C with the first match against Algeria coming on June 23 at the 30 June Stadium, Cairo.