What you need to know:
- Coach Firat declares their second Group ‘F’ fixture ‘a must-win’ for Harambee Stars.
- Match kicks off 10pm (Kenyan time) in Abidjan.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars will be keen to get their 2026 World Cup Group “F” campaign right back on track with a win against minnows Seychelles Monday at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The match will kick off at 10pm Kenyan time. The Indian Ocean island nation opted to stage the game in Cote d’Ivoire due to their lack of a Fifa approved stadium.
It offers Kenya an excellent opportunity to clinch a rare away win in a World Cup qualifier and against a team they have never lost to.
Kenya have in fact won just two qualifier matches away from home in history, one against Seychelles and other against Mauritius.
Stars lost their opening match to Gabon 2-1 on Thursday in Franceville as Burundi edged out Gambia 3-2, while group favourites Cote d’Ivoire thumped Seychelles 9-0 on Friday.
Seychelles are positioned 195 in the world by Fifa compared to Kenya’s 110. The last time Kenya won an away World Cup qualifier was on November 11, 2011 when they crushed Seychelles 3-0.
Kenya also won the second leg in Nairobi 4-0 to illustrate the gulf in class between the two nations then.
Does that gulf still exists? Kenya’s Turkish coach Engin Firat, may think so. On Monday he declared that today’s game was a must-win for Harambee Stars.
In his post-match conference after the loss to Gabon, Firat said he expected some of the key players who missed the game to be available today.
These include foreign-based defenders Joseph Okumu (Reims France), Eric “Marcelo” Ouma (AIK Sweden) and Daniel Anyembe (Viborg Denmark).
Of the quartet, only Ouma travelled with the team and fans will be waiting to see if he will be available today. Firat also warned his charges against underrating Seychelles, a nation Kenya has beaten four times in their five meetings.
Firat indicated there may be little changes to the team that lost to Gabon.
“Massive changes will not be necessary, it is about playing more offensive and therefore not many changes in this situation,” said Firat
Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala, who leads the goal scoring chart in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League with on seven goals, could get his second international cap.
With defensive mistakes costing Kenya against Gabon, the Turk will be keen to see the rearguard tightened.
“‘Marcelo’ played and trained for the first time on Saturday and therefore to be honest, I have no clue if he will be ready for the game. We will see and decide,” Firat told Nation Sport on phone from Abidjan
A loss or a draw could see the pressure on Firat to exit the national team continue to pile. It is no secret that many fans are not impressed with the Turkish coach whose international record ins unflattering.
But his should be three points for the picking for Kenya looking at history.
In their first meeting on November 18, 1992 Stars beat Seychelles in Tanzania 2-1 in the Cecafa tournament.
■Nov 18, 1992, Kenya 2 Seychelles 1 (Cecafa Cup)
■Jun 6, 1998, Kenya 1 Seychelles 1 (friendly)
■Jun 13, 1998 Seychelles 0 Kenya 1 (friendly)
■Nov 11, 2011 Seychelles 0 Kenya 3 (World Cup qualifier)
■Nov 15, 2011, Kenya 4 Seychelles 0 (World Cup qualifier)