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KENYA TAKE ON GHANA: Harambee Sand Stars face acid test as they host Ghana

FOOTBALL By Ernest Ndunda | August 27th 2016
Kenya's Harambee Sand Stars players celebrates as they return to the centre of the pitch after equalizing their first goal when they played against Uganda during an International Beach Soccer friendly match at the Jomo Kenyatta Public beach on Sunday, January 02, 2015. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

Kenya’s beach football team, Harambee Sand Stars will today take on Ghana’s Black Sharks in the first leg match of the African Cup of Nations in Mombasa.

Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwenda and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho are expected to lead Kenyan supporters in cheering the home boys.

Wael Mostafa will be the centre referee and his assistants will be Hany Farouk Eraky, Mohammed Attya and Khaled Abel Naby, all from Egypt and match commissioner Rodolf Andrea Ojika from Sudan.

Harambee Sand Stars coach Rajab Babu said they were ready for the match after an intensive training of two weeks.

“We are set for the match and our main focus is to win at home. We expect a tough match as our opponents are actively involved in beach football,” Babu said.

The Ghana national beach football team, Black Sharks, will be keen to progress to a second successive CAF Beach football competition. The return match will be held in September at the Laboma Beach Soccer Arena.

The winner of the two-legged qualifier automatically qualifies for the Africa Cup beach tournament to be held in Nigeria in December. The African Cup winners earn a ticket to represent the continent at the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Bahamas.

Ghana team manager Issaka Afful said they would not underestimate their opponents. “We have never played Kenya before and it would be a tricky match.

“We have been in camp for the past 15 days, which were enough for us to assemble a solid outfit and we are gearing up for a win on Saturday,”  Afful said.

The Ghanaian team is led by head coach Daniel Kottey Niiquaye and assisted by Thoephilus Nii Armah. Both coaches successfully qualified the Black Sharks to the maiden edition of the CAF Beach Soccer AFCON in Seychelles last year.

Football Kenya Federation South Coast Chairman Gabriel Mgendi urged fans to come out and support the home boys. Coach Babu will pick his team from goalkeepers Daiddo Manasse, Rabaj Hamisi, Mohamed Musa. Defenders are Farid Mbwana, Madi Hassan, Paul Kavula, Abdillahi Mohammed and Fahad Nassir.

Strikers are Mohammed Said, Mudhafar Swaleh, Fahad Hassan, Mwinyi Manzu, Victor Waweru, Omar Karisa, and Abduswamad Abdalla.

Technical bench has Rajabu Babu (coach), Kinero Swaleh (assistant coach), Jay Abdi (conditioning trainer), Ben Mbela (logistic manager), Ronny Oyando (team leader) and Festus (nutritionist).

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