What you need to know:
- Kenya will face Tanzania in the second semi-final starting 2:30pm, after Uganda play against neighbours Rwanda from 11am at the same venue
- Captain Amos Wanjala echoed Babu's sentiments crediting the team’s performance to the effective training provided by their coaches
- Tanzanian coach Habib Kondo Kikwayu said they are underdogs, but they have what it takes to win on Tuesday
Kenya's Junior Stars coach Salim Babu is optimistic of beating Tanzania in the Cecafa Under-18 semi-finals on Tuesday at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu and clinch the coveted cup on Friday.
Kenya will face Tanzania in the second semi-final starting 2:30pm, after Uganda play against neighbours Rwanda from 11am at the same venue.
Speaking after a training session at Kasagam Secondary School in Kisumu County, Babu said the team’s sterling performance in their group matches has gone a long way in motivating the players.
Junior Stars won all the Pool ‘A’ matches finishing top of the group on nine points after registering 5-0, 1-0 and 4-1 victories over Sudan, Rwanda and Somalia respectively.
“From the outset, the goal has been reaching the final and clinching the cup, a vision embraced by every player on a psychological level,” said Babu who is assisted by Anthony “Vieira” Akhulia.
Highlighting the team’s readiness, the coach affirmed, “We have prepared thoroughly and fully geared up for tomorrow’s match.”
Captain Amos Wanjala echoed Babu's sentiments crediting the team’s performance to the effective training provided by their coaches.
Wanjala acknowledged Tanzania as a formidable opponent but expressed unwavering confidence in the team’s ability to emerge triumphant.
Babu is expected to start with regulars Tyron Kariuki, Aldrine Kibet, Louise Ingavi, Collins Ochieng, Manzur Okwaro among others.
Tanzania played well in their group matches, but against Kenya they will have to be cautious in possession and look for early goals to progress.
Coming from a goal down to settle for a 1-1 draw with neighbours Zanzibar in their last group match, Tanzania must do much better to beat Kenya and qualify for the final.
Speaking ahead of their match against Kenya, Tanzanian coach Habib Kondo Kikwayu said they are underdogs, but they have what it takes to win on Tuesday.
“We don’t’ fear anyone because we believe in ourselves,” he said.
Kikwayu, who has a compact backline has several stars including Wilson Sharif among others to depend on.
Tanzania qualified after finishing second on four points, registering a 1-0 win over Uganda, losing to 1-2 to South Sudan before settling for a 1-1 with Zanzibar, edging them on disciplinary records, having received fewer cautions in their group matches.
Uganda topped Pool ‘B’ with six points after starting on a wrong footing, going down 1-0 to Tanzania in the opening match before beating Zanzibar and South Sudan 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.
Their coach, Morley Byekwaso has promised fireworks when they take on Rwanda, expressing hopes of leading his charges to victory over their neighbours as they look to win the title.
But his counterpart, Baptiste Kiyiranga who has Didier Ndayishimiye and deadly striker Sibomana Bobo among others to rely on, insists they will win the match and qualify for the final.
The Junior Amavubi, who convincingly hit Sudan 3-0 in their last Pool 'A' match, also registered a 1-0 win over Somalia after losing 1-0 to Kenya's Junior stars in the opener.