Kimanzi stays positive as Togo coach Claude Le Roy wary of Kenya threat ahead of tonight’s tie.
There will be plenty on the line at Kasarani Stadium tonight (7pm) when Kenya’s Harambee Stars tackle the Sparrow Hawks of Togo in the second Group G match of the 2021 Africa Nations Cup Qualifiers.
Although this will be the third meeting between the two sides with an even record of a win each and draw, both teams have already outlined their targets ahead of the highly anticipated encounter.
Buoyed by their historic 1-1 away draw against the Pharaohs of Egypt in Alexandria on Thursday night, Stars will be aiming to move closer to 2021 AFCON finals qualification in Cameroon with a win over Togo.
A win tonight will put Kenya in pole position to make a return to continental showpiece ahead of next year’s two-legged tie against Comoros before entertaining Egypt in Nairobi.
- READ MORE
- International friendly: Head coach Francis Kimanzi names 34-man provisional Harambee Stars squad
- Sports programme: Ex-Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno gets ambassadorial role
- Best player! Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga wins another award
- Strong national field for KipKeino Classic at Nyayo
- Stars to watch at Kip Keino Classic
- Kipchoge, Bekele can't afford to slip up
It will also be a moment for Francis Kimanzi and his charges to avenge their 2012 continental qualifiers defeat (1-0) to the Sparrow Hawks in Lome that eventually locked them out of the 2013 Afcon finals held in South Africa.
And it is during this game that the former Mathare United and Tusker coach was fined US$ 10,000 (Sh850, 000) and banned for four matches by the Confederation of African Football (Caf), for allegedly assaulting a match official.
But for storied Togo coach Claude Le Roy, this will be a chance for his side to bounce back from their shock 1-0 home loss to Comoros, who welcome Egypt in Moroni this afternoon.
Though Kenya is likely to do without the services of the injured duo of goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and winger Ayub Timbe, Kimanzi is optimistic the team will do well.
“I prefer staying positive because the players are so positive and are more motivated to play on Monday. That is important for us and I don’t think all the other arrangements that might have gone wrong will play any part on Monday. We’ve to continue staying focused and work for the match, nothing else,” said Kimanzi.
“The only set-back is the injuries (Matasi and Timbe) because we don’t know if they will be ready for the match. But like I said earlier, we will work with what we have. It will be a different game, a better fight and maybe pick up some positives.”
Asked if his past suspension after the game against Togo in 2012 will affect the team’s performance, the Dutch-trained Kimanzi said: “The most important thing is to talk about the game on Monday and not about suspension that happens everywhere. If it happens in my office there is no problem, what is the problem if you are suspended while working. It means you are so connected and have a lot of passion for the game.”
Frenchman Claude Le Roy is equally braced for a difficult match as he singled out Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Victor Wanyama, Kashiwa Reysol talisman Michael Olunga and China-based Ayub Timbe as Kenya’s main threats tonight.
“Kenya had a fantastic performance in Alexandria against Egypt. To draw in Egypt at this particular point is difficult. But that means Kenya is a strong team because you can’t get such a result like they did in Alexandria if you are not strong,” said Le Roy.
“They have a good team with quality strikers playing in China and Japan as well as Wanyama a good defensive midfielder playing in the Premier League. All the same, we hope to have a great game against Kenya.
He added: “It is my hope that the players won’t be under pressure, they have the experience to handle it after the bad result against Comoros.”