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SPORTS

Olunga ready to bring down Uganda Cranes

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | September 2nd 2021
Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga reacts during training at Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi on September 01, 2021 ahead of their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier Group E match against Uganda Cranes on September 02, 2021 at the same venue. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga is confident Kenya will end a five year-winless run against Uganda Cranes when the two sides clash today in the opening round of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers at the Nyayo National Stadium.

The striker belives Kenya has what it takes to defeat Uganda who have proven a hard nut to crack for the past three meetings since 2016.

Speaking ahead of the match, Olunga who has scored twice against the neighbors (2015 and 2017) said team work and resilience will be key during the match. He said they have had good preparation and they are raring to go.

“We know it will be a very tough match against Uganda who have been our rivals for many years within the East African region.

“However, we are the hosts and we have to show that by playing well. I believe every player in camp have the ability to perform well and help Kenya win today.

“A win for us will be key ahead of the next match against Rwanda and with teamwork I believe we can get  maximum points and kick off the qualifiers on a high note,” the Qatar-based striker.

The last time Kenya defeated Uganda was in 2015 during the CECAFA Championship which Harambee Stars won 2-0 courtesy of Olunga and Jacob Keli goals.

Heading into the qualifiers, Harambee Stars are in better form compared to Uganda having won four of their last five matches with Uganda losing four.

Despite that, Stars head coach Jacob Mulee insists it will be an open game where Kenya has to work hard and get maximum points for them to have advantage going forward.

“My main goal is to get to Qatar, but we have to start with the group games. It is a huge responsibility but I believe we can make it.

“We respect Uganda and know that head to head they have an advantage but we need to collect all three points to get off on a high note. We need to start writing our own history from today,” said Mulee.

Harambee Stars players train at Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi on September 01, 2021 ahead of their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier Group E match against Uganda Cranes on September 02, 2021 at the same venue. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kenya and Uganda will rekindle the rivalry on the pitch from 4pm in the Group E match before  traveling to Kigali where they will play hosts Rwanda in their second match of the group on Sunday.

The foreign-based players who are in the squad include Olunga (Al-Duhail, Qatar), Masud Juma (Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi, Morocco), Joseph Okumu (KAA Gent, Belgium), Eric Ouma (AIK, Sweden), Richard Odada (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Duke Abuya (Nkana, Zambia), Duncan Otieno (Lusaka Warriors, Zambia) and Eric Johanna (Jonkopings Sondra IF, Sweden).

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