Frenchman Sebastien Migne and his Congolese counterpart Florent Imbenge have a tough balancing act on their hands Saturday night as Kenya plays Democratic Republic of Congo in the final practice match ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
In this match, Imbenge and Migne will have to choose between asking for a winning performance from their boys, or holding back as a precautionary measure to avoid their players sustaining any injuries before the tournament.
Migne has made it clear that he will adopt a safety first approach, but everyone knows that victory will be very much on the minds of Harambee Stars supporters, as it will inevitably be viewed as a precursor to the team’s performance at Afcon.
“I don’t like to change my squad too much, but now I have no choice because the defence is lacking some good players. So because of this I will have to do a very difficult thing, which is to try to win but of course avoid injuries before Afcon,” he said.
Indeed Migne is facing a selection headache in the defence department, as dependable centre back Brian Mandela has already been dispatched back home after he suffered an injury during training in France.
Musa Mohammed, the other dependable defender in that position, is also doubtful as he is currently nursing a sore hamstring. This further complicates Migne’s options.
Zesco United defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino, alongside Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, Joash Onyango and Joseph Okumu however stand to benefit from this tough situation.
Imbenge, who is one of the few Africans who will be in charge of their national teams at the upcoming Afcon tournament, is sure to parade a galaxy of stars who include TP Mazembe attacker Tresor Mputu, China-based forward Cedric Bakambu and Everton’s Yannick Bolasie.
The match, in which Stars are seeking a third consecutive win over DRC, will be staged in Madrid, Spain, where The Leopards are currently holding their pre-tournament preparations.
Plans have been made for the Kenyan lads fly to the Spanish capital Saturday morning, before returning to their base in Paris, France after the match which kicks off at 9pm Kenyan time.
After the match, the Stars will remain in Paris for three more days before they leave for Egypt on June 19.
Stars’ first match at the continental tourney will be against Algeria on June 23 in Cairo, before they take on Tanzania in their second match four days later.
Harambee Stars’ last group game will be against Senegal on July 1. Stars will play all their group matches at the 30,000-seater 30 June stadium in Cairo.