By ERNEST NDUNDA in Kampala
Harambee Stars clash with Ethiopia in a winner take all match, the last of Group A fixtures, in the Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup this afternoon at Namboole Stadium.
A draw will be enough for Kenya to progress to the last eight. However, Ethiopia must outcome Harambee Stars for them to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Kenya lost 1-0 to Uganda but recovered to hit South Sudan 2-0 while Ethiopia defeated South Sudan 1-0 but lost to Uganda 1-0.
Coach James Nandwa, speaking after yesterday’s morning training at Kyambogo University College, said the match will be crucial as both teams stand high chances of making it to the quarter-finals.
“The team is at its best and has been improving in each game. We lost three scoring chances against Uganda and wasted seven opportunities against South Sudan but we shall transform all those missed chances into goals tomorrow (today),” said Nandwa.
“Kenya and Ethiopia are both desperate for a win but any draw would be an added advantage to us.”
Nandwa confirmed there is pressure on Harambee Stars and him to deliver the silverware. He assured Kenyans and the fans who will be in Kampala today that he would not let them down this afternoon when the match kicks off at 4.pm.
The coach urged the few Kenyans in Kampala to turn up in big numbers at Namboole Stadium and cheer the team on, saying the extra man will be a deserved bonus and inspiration to his side.
As expected, Nandwa said he will make changes in his starting line-up. However, he declined to reveal his first eleven until today.
But it was evident that Clifton Miheso of Thika United would step in to replace expelled Paul Were with Sofapaka’s Thomas Wanyama taking the position of Kevin Omondi.
Rama Salim of Gor Mahia, who played in the opening match but was benched in the second, is likely to start instead Anthony Njenga of Sofapaka. AFC Leopard’s midfielder Bernard Mang’oli starts in place of Humphrey Mieno from Sofapaka.
Ethiopian coach Seyum Kabede said he has a lot of respect for Kenyan side.
“It would be life or death match for my side. We must beat Kenya to advance to the quarterfinals,” said the coach whose side also training alongside Harambee Stars at the same ground.
The Ethiopian nicknamed Walya Antelopes will bank on their captain Fikru Lemessa to guide the defence line with Mehari Medelcho and Gathuoch Panom taking acre of the mid-field. Lethal strikers Mesfin Kidane and Mesud Mussa would be the twin strikers.
In last year’s event, Ethiopia were sent packing in the first round same as Kenya and it will be interesting to see who fails to break the jinx and gets knocked out the earliest.