Coach Migne wants Kasarani full when Kenya play Ethiopia

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Friday, October 12th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Stars goalkeeper Patrick Matasi against Malawi during friendly match at Moi Sports Centre Kasarani. Sept 11, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya national football team Harambee Stars are 90 minutes from making a comeback to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Previous campaigns have been filled with heartaches and near misses. At times, they have come close to taking part in the continent’s coveted football extravaganza, but in others, it has been something that borders absurdity.

Their qualifiers were poor shows, actually, they were no-shows. The output was mostly uncoordinated; players bumbled and with every failed attempt, they would totter back to the changing room and wait for the next match. So routine, heartbreaking and predictable.

After 14 years of nothing but heartaches for football lovers in Kenya, this year seems the closest Harambee Stars have come to taking part in the biennial event, which will be held next year in Cameroon.

Kenya last played at the 2004 edition in Tunisia under coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee.

In truth, Kenya need to beat Ethiopia on Sunday in their return match at Kasarani (and pray Fifa does not lift the imposed ban on Sierra Leone) to qualify for the tournament. 

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No one knows the importance of the Sunday match more than Harambee Stars head coach Sebastian Migne.

Migne has challenged Kenyans to borrow a leaf from their Ethiopian counterparts and fill the 60,000 Kasarani Stadium in the Group F return leg.

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Sports, Richard Echesa also said there will be no gate charges for the Sunday game.

On Wednesday, a determined Harambee Stars bagged a vital point after frustrating the Walya Antelopes to a barren draw in front of more than 60,000 fans at the intimidating Bahir Dar Stadium.

With Sierra Leone’s Football Association still suspended by world football governing body Fifa from all activities due to government interference, Kenya have a realistic chance of securing a ticket to next year’s finals after leapfrogging Ghana’s Black Stars to top the group with four points.

Migne has launched an appeal to fans to turn up in large numbers and cheer the side to victory.

“We missed good opportunities in the first half but it was difficult to play against 12 players. I’m not talking about the referee, but the Ethiopian fans. The atmosphere was amazing and it was a bit difficult for my boys,” said Migne in a post-match interview.

“It was interesting in the beginning of the second half after making some changes, but after Abud Omar’s injury, it became difficult on his flank. With the fans and quality of the opponents we were up against, I think we did well. I’m very proud of my team’s attitude and character.”

“We had our moments in the first half, Ethiopia had theirs in the second half. Both teams deserved to get a penalty, but generally it was a balanced game and we deserved a point.”

Migne has labelled Sunday’s match as a ‘final’ for both teams.

“Now we need to try and win in four days time at home. I’m pretty sure the match will be like a final between Ethiopia and Kenya. It’s amazing to play in this atmosphere. But I was not surprised with the Ethiopians’ turn out, well-done for that. I hope to have a full stadium on Sunday and try to beat you (Ethiopia).

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