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Battle of the Stars reloaded

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | March 15th 2021
Harambee Stars’ Abdalla Hassan (left) and Sebit Okuer of South Sudan’s Bright Stars during a friendly match at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday, March 13, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

National team Harambee Stars will be hoping for an improved performance and another friendly win today when they collide with neighbouring Taifa Stars at Nyayo National Stadium.

Though Elvis Rupia's second half volley helped Stars beat South Sudan 1-0 in their first warm up friendly at the same venue on Saturday, their performance was not convincing.

Kenya, who are ranked third in Group G of the 2021 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers, are using the build-ups as part of their preparation ahead of their last group qualification fixtures against joint group leaders Egypt and Togo.

Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee's boys will host the Pharaohs at Kasarani Stadium on March 22 before flying out to Lome to tackle bottom-rooted Togo on March 29.

But Kenya will wrap up their preparation for the two games with another build up against Tanzania on Thursday in Nairobi.

Even though Mulee appeared to have been encouraged by the display of his local-based players against South Sudan which featured a couple of debutants, he clearly knows they must be at their best when they battle with their noisy neighbours today.

Harambee Stars players on the bench follow action during their friendly match against South Sudan at Nyayo national stadium on March 13, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Elvis Rupia, Collins Sichenje (AFC Leopards), Adisa Omar (Bidco United), Danson Chetambe (Bandari, Nahashon Alambi (KCB), Bonface Onyango (Kariobangi Sharks), John Macharia (Gor Mahia) and Tusker teenage sensation Henry Meja all made their senior team debut on Saturday.

"I was satisfied with the boys’ performance against South Sudan bearing mind that most of them were making their senior team debuts. Though some of them looked a bit timid I think they gave their best, and that’s quite encouraging," said Mulee.

The former Tusker coach singled out AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia as one of the bright Sparks in Saturday's match against South Sudan.

He revealed how he had planned to substitute Rupia only for him to score in the 76th minute before eventually being replaced by his FKF Premier League golden boot rival Henry Meja two minutes later.

“I was pleased with Elvis Rupia’s goal because he had given his best in the entire game and it would have been disappointing for him to come off without a goal.  He actually scored at a time when I was planning to substitute him," explained Mulee.

Bandari winger Abdallah Hassan added: " I think we played well and that win was a morale booster for us ahead of the qualifiers."

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