Harambee Stars have been placed in pot three as the Confederation of African Football (Caf) released the seedings for Friday night’s draw of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Kenya is in Pot ‘C’ alongside South Africa, neighbours Uganda, Benin, Mauritania and debutants Madagascar. Hosts Egypt are in Pot ‘A’ together with holders Cameroon, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria and Morocco.
Speaking Thursday on the impending draw, former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno hopes Harambee StarsKenya will be handed a ‘fair’ shake when the exercise is carried out Friday night near the iconic Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
This biennial sporting showpiece, will, for the first time, consist of 24 national teams and matches are set to be played in the cities of Alexandria, Ismailia, Suez and the capital Cairo between June 21 and July 19 this year.
Stars players and Kenyan football fans will this evening know their favourite team’s group stage opponents and venue of matches, with the championship’s draw set to be conducted by the Caf top brass.
Forty-five-year-old Otieno captained Kenya at her last appearance in Tunisia in 2004, where Kenya was drawn in Group ‘B’ against Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Then coached by veteran trainer Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee and consisting a deadly strike pairing of a youngster Dennis Oliech and Belgium-based Mike Okoth - who is the father of Liverpool forward Divock Origi.
Stars finished third in that group ahead of Burkina Faso but failed to progress to the quarters.
“If we can avoid the big teams from north and west Africa at the group stage this time around, then it will be easier to find our way out,” said Otieno, who was part of the Stars technical bench at the start of the just concluded Nations Cup qualification campaign.
“I believe our target is to get out of the group, and then maybe progress to the quarters, and with a bit of luck even the semis.”
The ‘big’ north and west African sides Otieno is referring to could be Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Tunisia, hosts Egypt, Morocco, and Cote d'Ivoire.
Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne, who is in Cairo for the draw, is of a contrary opinion.
“I am up for any challenge. Any team we are drawn against, we have two months to go and prepare for them. We played Ghana and nobody gave us a chance but we beat them. I have no preference here (on the team’s to face),” said the French trainer.