Kenya to play Madagascar, Gambia in pre-Afcon friendlies

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Sunday, April 28th 2019 at 00:15 GMT +3 | Football
Eric Johanna of Kenya's Harambee Stars. [Stafford Ondego]

Harambee Stars have lined up two friendly matches in preparation for the upcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations finals slated for June 21 to July 19 in Egypt.

Harambee Stars, who will be making a return to the continental showpiece after 15 years, will meet Barea of Madagascar on June 7 in Paris, France, before taking on Scorpions of Gambia on June 15.

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Uganda Cranes had also expressed interest to play against Sebastian Migne’s men.  

Kenya are in Group C alongside Algeria, Tanzania and pre-tournament favourites Senegal.

Madagascar will grace the finals for the first time in their history while Gambia failed to qualify for the tournament after drawing 1-1 away to Algeria.

Harambee Stars, set to leave for their three-week camp in Paris on May 31 before departing for Cairo on June 18, will camp at Marcousis after losing their initial residential camp in Montdidier to Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire due to delay in making payments.

Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa said they are still negotiating with the two teams for the build-up matches on Migne’s recommendation.

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“It is confirmed we will play two friendlies in France before going to Egypt. This will be the longest period the coach (Migne) would have had with the players since taking charge,” Mwendwa said.

“Negotiations with both Madagascar and Gambia on coach’s advice are at an advanced stage, what is remaining is to sign the contracts.

“The coach wants us to play friendlies that will boost the team’s morale and confidence ahead of the tournament.

“We are considering Gambia because they drew against Algeria in the qualifiers and they will also be camping in The Netherlands.

“Having replaced us at our initial residential camp in Paris, we thought playing against Madagascar will not a big risk,” he added.

But the federation boss revealed that they have turned down friendly requests against hosts Egypt, three-time champions Nigeria, Tunisia and Côte d’Ivoire.

“It’s true we’ve declined friendly requests against Egypt, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

Tunisia had invited us to play them on June 17 in Tunis and they had even offered to cater for everything but the coach declined because he wants to have a three-day rest to assess his players before naming the final 23-man squad,” Mwendwa said.

“Ivory Coast wanted their friendly match to be played on June 7, unfortunately, that’s the day we are set to play Madagascar.”

The national team will reside with Teranga Lions in the same hotel at the 30th June Stadium, the venue of Group C matches.

Stars play the first match of the Afcon against Algeria on June 21.

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