Kenya will play Djibouti in the opening match of the 2019 Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup at Bugembe Stadium in Jinja on Sunday.
At the same time, Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes withdrew from the annual regional football showpiece which begins on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Cecafa secretary-general Nicholas Musonye released fixtures indicating Harambee Stars will also play Tanzania and Zanzibar at the same venue next Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
“There are no easy games in the tournament nowadays,” explained Stars midfielder Kenneth Muguna.
“We are now only thinking about the tournament and planning how to progress from the group. The rest, including how to defend the title, will come as the tournament progresses.”
After playing minnows Djibouti, Kenya’s matches against Tanzania and Zanzibar are expected to be closely-contested.
Stars beat Tanzania at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations last June, but lost to the same opponents in the 2020 Africa Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers in August, a result that cost Sebastian Migne his job as Kenya’s coach.
And at the same time, an excited Samuel Odhiambo says he will not be satisfied with warming Harambee Stars bench in Uganda.
The Western Stima custodian has been drafted in Stars squad by coach Francis Kimanzi as a replacement for youngster Brian Bwire who’s injured his right hip.
Ulinzi Stars keeper Timothy Odhiambo is expected to be Kimanzi’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 12-day tournament but his namesake Samuel suggests the matter is not yet settled.
“Life is about taking chances when they come your way,” explained Samuel.
“Timothy is a very good goalkeeper and he is also my friend. If he plays, well and good. But if I’m handed the opportunity, I will make the most of it.”
Besides Odhiambo, Kimanzi has also handed call-ups to Tusker’s lanky striker Timothy Otieno and Bandari’s Mohammed Katana.
Stars squad, mainly consisting of home-based players, reported to camp on at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Monday and will leave for Jinja on Friday.