Rising Stars eye historic Afcon appearance

Kenya Under-20 midfielder Malisau Mathew celebrates after scoring during their friendly match against Sudan Under-20 at Nyayo National stadium on November 5, 2020. Kenya won 2-1.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The youth team, dubbed “Rising Stars”, will depart for Tanzania on Saturday to compete in the Cecafa Under-20 Championships
  • This nine-team tournament will be staged at the Black Rhino Academy and Sheikh Amri Abeid stadium in Arusha between November 22 and December 2
  • Kenya, coached by Stanley Okumbi, are in a tough-looking Pool 'C' at the tournament with matches against Ethiopia and Sudan lined up

With Harambee Stars’ chances of qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations all but over, youngsters Benson Omala and Sellasie Otieno are hoping to soften that blow for team Kenya supporters by masterminding Kenya’s Under-20 team's qualification to the continental showpiece.

The youth team, dubbed “Rising Stars”, will depart for Tanzania on Saturday to compete in the Cecafa Under-20 Championships.

This nine-team tournament will be staged at the Black Rhino Academy and Sheikh Amri Abeid stadium in Arusha between November 22 and December 2.

The top two teams will qualify for the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Mauritania in February next year.

"We have prepared well in training and also played a number of build-up matches to work on formations and link-up. We want to win this tournament and I am confident we can achieve that," said Omala, now attached to FKF Premier League side Gor Mahia, and who is the player to watch.

The youngster from Nyamasaria was recently called to the Harambee Stars squad for the recent 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches against Comoros but didn't make the final cut.

The Rising Stars lost 2-0 to Uganda in last year's final and 3-2 to top-flight side AFC Leopards in a build-up match on Wednesday. But Otieno agrees with Omala the team can go one better. "We conceded a last-minute goal against Leopards because of lack of concentration. These are some of the things we are looking to work on."

Kenya, coached by Stanley Okumbi, are in a tough-looking Pool 'C' at the tournament with matches against Ethiopia and Sudan lined up.

Pool 'A' has Tanzania, Somalia and Djibouti, while Pool 'B' consists of Burundi, South Sudan and defending champions Uganda.

This is the first regional tournament organised by new Cecafa secretary-general Auka Gacheo who replaced Nicholas Musonye in January.

Squad

Goalkeepers

Maxwell Mulili, Brian Opondo

Defenders

Boniface Mwangemi, Collins Sichenje, Kelvin Mose, Alphonse Omija, Frank Odhiambo, Lewis Bandi, Fredrick Alushula

Midfielders

Steiner Musasia, Nicholas Omondi, Enoch Wanyama, Ronald Reagan, Alphonse Washe, Mathew Mwendwa, Simon Omondi, Lesly Otieno,Hillary Odhiambo, Ian Simiyu, Ronald Shichenje

Forwards

Benson Omala, Kevinton Machika, Henry Meja, Sellasie Otieno.

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