. Kenya is keen to rewrite its history at the Africa Cup of Nations by going past the group stages of the tournament that starts in Egypt on June 21 and runs until July 19.
Head coach Sebastian Migne says returning to the biannual competition after 15 years is not enough and Kenya national team Harambee Stars must aim to reach the quarterfinals. Kenya is pooled alongside Senegal, Algeria and Tanzania in Group C, and will play their first match against Algeria on June 23.
Speaking to Xinhua, Migne said that the Harambee Stars have the quality to sail through the tough group stages in their sixth appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). “We have tough teams, Algeria and Senegal. They have been to the World Cup but this is our perfect opportunity to prove to the critics that we have improved and deserve our spot in the tournament,” said Migne on Monday. However, Migne acknowledged that Tanzania will also be a hard nut to crack and should not be taken lightly. “It will be a fantastic derby against Tanzania. Maybe really important potentially for qualification. We will try our best of course to qualify,” Migne said. Kenya has set up camp in Paris since May 31 for training and Migne believes it is only right to repay the trust the football administration and the government has shown in him by getting the team beyond the group stages. “We have not come to Paris and travel to Egypt to be tourist. We mean business and it is important to qualify.We don’t care about the pyramids, but what we want is to qualify and continue the journey through the group stages,” he added. Migne was hired in 2017 and entrusted with the challenge to lead the team to the AFCON in 2019, which he has attained.
He also has the challenge to help the team qualify for its first ever World Cup in 2022 in Qatar. But for the moment he has his task cut out against strong opposition in Egypt. This will be the Harambee Stars’ sixth appearance in the elite competition, having previously played in the 1972, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 2004 editions. Kenya secured its first win of the tournament in 2004 beating Burkina Faso 3-2 in Tunisia in 2004. Now they must go beyond that and win in Egypt to live their dream of playing in the quarterfinals. Only the top two teams from the six groups plus the best four losers will make the round of 16 which will be played on knockout basis. This will be the first expanded edition of the continental competition, with 24 teams participating. Previous editions had only 16 teams. Harambee Stars beat Madagascar 1-0 in a friendly last week and will finish their training with another build up clash against Democratic Republic of Congo on June 15 in Madrid before flying to Egypt for the AFCON.