NAIROBI – Not many players called up by Kenya head coach Francis Kimanzi had cemented their careers in football when Harambee Stars last featured at the finals of the Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia 2004.
Many have dreamt of making it to the continent’s biggest football competition but ended up disappointed. Now a new ray of hope is cutting through the cloud of doubt as Kenya named its team to prepare for the meeting against Emmanuel Adebayo’s Togo on February 29 in Nairobi.
Alongside the ordinary Kenyan players based in Europe, Kimanzi has summoned Arnold Origi of Norway top side Fredrikstad, Taiwo Otieno of Torquay in England, teenage sensation Ayub Timbe of Racing Ghenk, Belgium and AFC Leopards’ Allan Wanga, who had a short stint in Vietnam. Like Kenya, Togo failed to qualify for the 2012 qualifiers in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
However, they were in Angola two years ago, where their campaign was nipped in the bud by a clumsy bandit a****k on their way to Luanda by bus. But for Kenya it is eight years since they last appeared at the finals of Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia. The hunger and desperation among local fans is building up.
Despite Harambee Stars dominating the regional tournaments in Cecafa to give the illusion of being competitive – talk about false advertising – they failed to secure the ticket to the finals in the previous four attempts. But Kimanzi believes that is all about to end as Kenya seek to reinvent their program after years of administrative wrangles.
Kenya has set a build-up match against Egypt away in Cairo, but it remains uncertain if it will be honoured as the Egyptian Football Association was disbanded following football v******e in the country, which left over 70 people d**d.
Football Kenya Federation chairman Sam Nyamweya said they are waiting for word from their hosts regarding the fate of the match. Nyamweya asked FIFA to intervene in the matter and advice them on what to do. FIFA does not allow any kind of government interference in running of football. (Xinhua)