According to Friday’s draw for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Harambee Stars will play Senegal, Algeria and neighbours Tanzania in Pool C. The national team’s coaches and players now know exactly which teams they will come up against when Egypt hosts the continent’s premier football tournament from June 21 to July 19.
More importantly, they must know exactly what to do to beat their opponents, some of whom have long experience playing football at the highest level.
For instance, Algeria and Senegal are not only regular campaigners at Afcon, but also regular participants in the Fifa World Cup, having competed in last year’s edition of the global tournament in Russia.
Both boast star-studded squads with players turning out for top European leagues. The two teams pose a great challenge for the Stars. Kenya is position 108 in the Fifa rankings while Algeria is 70th and Senegal 23rd. Tanzania, ranked 114th, looks the weakest team on paper but appearances can be deceptive.
As Kenya prepares to play its group matches in Cairo between June 23 and July 1, team officials must adequately prepare players for the tournament by engaging in serious training and playing meaningful friendly matches.
The government has fulfilled its mandate by funding the team for a three-month training camp in France with Football Kenya Federation putting in place attractive cash incentives and bonuses for the players.
Kenya returns to the tournament this year after a 15-year hiatus and the team will make its fans proud by performing well.
The tournament, which will be broadcast globally on satellite television, also offers Kenyan players a bigger platform to showcase their football prowess to the world, given that talent scouts from European clubs will be at the tournament monitoring them.