No love lost as Harambee Stars tackle Tanzania

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Sunday, December 8th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Stars' head Coach Francis Kimanzi at Moi International sports centre, Kasarani during the second 2021 Africa Nations Cup Qualifiers Group G match against Sparrow Hawks of Togo. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

From social media banter to the battle for economic supremacy, Kenya and Tanzania have always had endless battles.

Today, the two countries will renew that rivalry, but this time on the pitch as Kenya’s Harambee Stars take on Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Group B opening match of the 2019 Cecafa Senior Challenge in Kampala, Uganda.

Save for the bragging rights, there will be a lot at stake as the newfound rivals collide at 4pm at Lugogo Stadium.

Kenya beat Zanzibar Heroes 3-2 on post match penalties to lift the last edition of the tournament held in 2017 in Machakos after a 2-2 draw in extra time.

And while Harambee Stars will be seeking to begin their regional tournament title defence on a positive note, their noisy neighbours will be out to inflict more pain on the Kenyans after recently eliminating them from the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers.

This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this year with an even record in the last three encounters.

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Harambee Stars outclassed Taifa Stars 3-2 in their Group C match dubbed East African derby at the 2019 Africa Nations Cup finals on June 27, in Cairo, Egypt.

The two sides then clashed a month later in a two-legged Chan qualifiers. With both legs ending in a barren draw, it is the Tanzanians, who had the last laugh as they edged out Stars 4-1 on penalties in the return leg in front of their home fans at the Kasarani Stadium.

The shocking result saw the Football Kenya Federation part ways with Frenchman Sebastian Migne and immediately re-appointed Francis Kimanzi (pictured) as Stars head coach.

Though it will be a moment for Kenneth Muguna, Joash Omondi, Clifton Miheso (Gor Mahia), Whyvonne Isuza (AFC Leopards) and Wazito’s Musa Masika to revenge their Chan elimination, the likes of Sweden-based midfielder Anthony Wambani, Oscar Wamalwa (Ulinzi Stars) and Kakamega Homeboyz’s Moses Mudavadi are all in line for their national team debuts.

But even as Kimanzi continues with his rebuilding process, he has set his sights on helping Harambee Stars retain their champion status in the region.

“We have a chance of defending our title. We will, of course, be under pressure but that is the nature of football,” Kimanzi said, moments before leaving for Kampala on Friday.

“This tournament is also an avenue for us to give new players a chance. We have AFCON and World Cup Qualifiers coming up next year so it’s important we see who we can involve in the senior team.”

 

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