The national football team, Harambee Stars are in Cairo, Egypt, ready and fully prepared to rumble against Africa’s greatest teams in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
The tournament kicks off on Friday with Kenya’s first match will be against Algeria on Sunday.
Four days after that, they will take on Tanzania in their second match before facing Senegal’s Lions of Teranga in their last group C match on July 1.
All of the Stars’ group matches will be staged at the 30,000-seater 30 June stadium in Cairo and already, excitement is building around the country as Kenyans wait to watch the lads at the continental stage for the first time in 15 long years.
The burden of performance now rests on the players, all of whom have vowed to do their best to bring pride and honour to the country during the tournament.
Coach Sebastien Migne, who has been heavily criticised for his squad selection, has however said enough to suggest that Kenya’s qualification to this particular tournament happened unexpectedly, and that Kenyans should lower their expectations.
“Our target was to qualify for the 2021 tournament, not this one. But we did the impossible and qualified. So people should not expect too much. We will go there and do our best,” he said from Paris, France, where the national team ended a 19-day training camp on Tuesday.
Indeed Kenya’s Afcon qualification happened unpredictably, as Sierra Leone were disqualified from their Group F in the middle of the competition and all their matches, including their 2-1 win against Kenya in Freetown, annulled.
This is after the country’s football association (Sierra Leone Football Association) was suspended and then subsequently banned by world governing body Fifa for government interference after the country’s anti-corruption commission sought to remove SLFA president Isha Johansen and secretary general Christopher Kamara from office.
This saw Kenya confirm their place at the biennial tournament with a game to spare in December last year.
The Leone Stars’ disqualification left Kenya sitting atop Group F with seven points, one ahead of Ghana. Ethiopia, who were the other members of that group, were third with one point.
Stars however lost 1-0 in their return group match against Ghana to slump to second place on Group F but all the same they earned qualification alongside the Black Stars.
Before that, however, Kenya had posted good results stretching across three matches, starting with a scintillating 1-0 home win over Ghana, followed by a barren draw at a tension filled match away in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia culminating in an exhilarating 3-0 win over Ethiopia at home.
It now remains to be seen how the selected players will fare against other African countries in their quest to make history by making it to the second round.