Togo’s national team coach, Claude Le Roy, is wary of the threat Harambee Stars could pose ahead of their Monday evening clash at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Togo, christened Sparrow Hawks, arrived in the country on Saturday evening with a 46-man delegation that includes government officials and journalists for Monday's Group ‘G’ match of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers. The match starts at 7pm.
The playing unit includes stars such as Djene Dakonam who turns out for Getafe in the Spanish La Liga, midfielder Kossivi Amededjisso of Bundesliga club RP Leipzig, goalkeeper Barcola Malcom who is in the books of French side Lyon and Matthieu Dossevi, a midfielder who also plays in France for Toulouse.
Despite the big names in his squad, Le Roy is not oblivious of the talent in Harambee Stars, picking out striker Michael Olunga, Victor Wanyama and Ayub Timbe for special praise.
“They (Kenya) had a fantastic performance against Egypt and I know they have good forwards who play in Japan (Olunga), China (Timbe) and of course Victor Wanyama who is very experienced and plays in the English Premier League. They are a strong team and the game against Egypt proves it,” the experienced tactician says.
Togo started their 2021 Afcon qualifying campaign a bad footing as they lost 1-0 to Comoros at home, and Le Roy is hoping his charges can put the game behind them and register a positive result this evening.
“I hope the players won’t have pressure and they will use their experience to survive after a bad result. The performance was good (against Comoros) but we had an unbelievable number of opportunities that we did not convert. I am very happy to be in Kenya and we are here to play good football,” he added.
Both teams held final training on Sunday at Kasarani ahead of the game, with Harambee Stars training in the morning and in the evening. Kenya will however miss the services of Ayub Timbe who is in Belgium for treatment after aggravating a foot injury while goalkeeper Patrick Matasi has been ruled out due to a groin injury. Coach Francis Kimanzi is however adamant that they will get a positive result and has called upon fans to rally behind the team.
“It’s a home game and I expect many fans to come cheer the team as I believe that can make a big difference. We are playing at home and need to take advantage of that,” Kimanzi said.
Captain Victor Wanyama echoed his sentiments and warned his teammates not to underrate the opponents. “They (Togo) lost against Comoros and are eager to bounce back so we need to be careful. Against Ethiopia last year at home we had a full stadium that rallied us for the entire game and it is our wish to have such an atmosphere again. We are motivated and going for the maximum points,” the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder said.
Tickets for the game that kicks off at 7pm will retail at Sh200 and Sh500 each for the terrace and VIP sections respectively. They go on sale from 10 am at Kenya Cinema, Ngomongo Police Station, opposite Safari Park Hotel and outside Gate 12 at MISC Kasarani.
Probable Harambee Stars Starting XI
Goalkeeper: Ian Otieno
Defenders: Joash Onyango, Joseph Okumu, Samuel Olwande, Eric Ouma
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (C), Johanna Omolo, Lawrence Juma
Forwards: Eric Johanna, Cliff Nyakeya and Michael Olunga.