Kenya pooled against giants Cameroon in Afcon 2025 qualifiers

Harambee Stars

Harambee Stars players during a past training session in Nairobi. Inset: Coach Francis Kimanzi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya to face Cameroon, Namibia and Zimbabwe in 2025 Afcon qualifiers.
  • Zimbabwe is the only team in Group 'J' that is ranked lower than Kenya.

Former Harambee Stars coach, Francis Kimanzi has called for adequate preparation as the country heads to the qualifiers of 2025 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

Kenya faces five time champions Cameroon, Namibia and Zimbabwe in 2025 Afcon qualifiers.

In the draw done by Confederation of African Football (Caf) at its headquarters in Egypt on Thursday, Harambee Stars were pooled in Group  ‘J’ against teams that rank higher. Only Zimbabwe ranks lower than Kenya in the group.

Kenya’s opponents Namibia, who are 97th in Fifa rankings, competed in the 2023 Afcon held in Cote d’Ivoire in January this year, while Zimbabwe, who are ranked 129th globally, are among African teams that have improved in football in recent years, although they missed 2023 Afcon  due to Fifa suspension. 

Former African champions Cameroon, popularly referred to as Indomitable Lions, are ranked 49th. Kenya is ranked 109th.

The top two teams in each of the  12 groups will automatically qualify next year’s continental showpiece, which will be staged in Morocco in December.

The qualifier matches will start in September this year.  Kenya last competed in Afcon in 2019 when Egypt hosted the tournament.

Harambee Stars played in the same pool as Tanzania and African giants Algeria and Senegal, but were  eliminated  at the group stage.

Harambee Stars

Harambee Stars players train at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani Annex on November 13, 2023

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Kenya was locked out of the  qualifiers for 2023 Afcon qualifiers following a Fifa suspension in February 2022.

Former Harambee Stars coach Kimanzi reckons Kenya faces seemingly weaker but tricky opponents as the country seeks to qualify to play in next year’s tournament in  Morocco.

On Thursday, Kimanzi dismissed the notion that Zimbabwe and Namibia are the weaker teams in the group.

“What matters is ambition. The idea that some teams are small no longer works in football. There are no weak opponents in the group since each team will prepare well,” said Kimanzi.

“An easy game is the one you prepare well for, and adequately cover all the details, but we always have poor preparation for matches, and the other opponents are also seeing Kenya as the weaker team of the group. We must not fall in that trap,”  Kimanzi added.

The Mathare United coach has also urged the government to have stadiums ready for qualifier matches to avoid hosting its home matches a way for lack of a stadium which meets Fifa standards

“I doubt if the government will implement many of its infrastructural projects. Kenya will play its matches a way and therefore fail to enjoy the much-needed home support,” said Kimanzi.