Kenya’s Junior Stars will be seeking to qualify for the 2023 Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Under-18 championships semifinal with a game to spare when they face Rwanda in their Group A second match at Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu on Tuesday.
The Salim Babu-led side thrashed Sudan 5-0 in their opening group match last Saturday in Kisumu in a game where US-based forward Louise Ingavi and National Super League winger Tyron ‘Junior’ Kariuki posted impressive performances.
Ingavi, who plays for USA's Montvarde Academy, scored a brace in the match, where Kariuki, who plays for Rainbow FC, Spain-based Aldrine Kibet and Elly Owande of Migori, also got onto the score sheet.
Speaking ahead of the match, coach Babu said even though there is a possibility of getting to semis with a game to spare, they are taking it a game at a time as they focus on winning the match.
Kenya are tied in Group A on three points alongside Rwanda who defeated 10-man Somalia 1-0 last Saturday.
A win for the Junior Stars will see them qualify for the semis set to be played next week on Tuesday.
“We know our strengths heading into the match against Rwanda whom we rate highly. Our Saturday’s 5-0 win might not have exposed our weaknesses and we are going to be cautious," he said.
“It is a game at a time for us. Not thinking about semis but winning the Rwanda duel first then the rest will flow. The boys have recovered well and we are ooking forward to win,” said the former Nzoia Sugar tactician.
Kenya will play Rwanda from 12pm before Somalia face wounded Sudan from 3pm at Jomo Kenyatta Stadium.
On Wednesday, Tanzania will also be chasing a semifinals slot when they play South Sudan in Group B.
The Tanzanians narrowly saw off Uganda 1-0 on Sunday on a soggy Bukhungu Stadium, a scoreline similarly registered by Zanzibar in their win against South Sudan.
A win for both Zanzibar and Tanzania will see the two teams book a spot in the semis.
Zanzibar will play Uganda at Bukhungu from 3pm after Tanzania versus South Sudan fixture at 12pm.
According to the tournament organisers, Group B matches pitting Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and South Sudan are played in Kakamega while Group A consisting of hosts Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda and Sudan are in Kisumu.
The semis, playoffs and final will be played in Kisumu.