Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Harambee Stars to test the Zebras

Kenya’s Harambee Stars are in the country to prepare for their international friendly game against the Zebras scheduled to be played at UB Stadium tonight (Wednesday) at 7pm.

The visitors are expected to give the hosts a tough game as they have announced a strong 18-man squad, which arrived here on Monday.

Both sides are expected to use the tie to prepare for their upcoming 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers early next month.

Botswana travels to Lome to play Togo while the Kenyans take on Guinea-Bissau.

While the Zebras have already qualified for the continental showpiece, the Harambee Stars need nothing less than maximum points against their West African opponents.

The Zebras go into the game as firm favourites as they have steadily improved since July last year.

Currently, the hosts are ranked 15 in Africa while the Harambee Stars are in a disappointing 35th spot. But football is an unpredictable game as Kenya might come here and snatch a morale-boosting victory.

Already coach Zedekia Otieno is under immense pressure to record a victory here but his situation is not helped by the fact that Kenya still have to win an international friendly game this year.

In February, the Harambee Stars succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away to South Africa, followed by a 3-0 loss to Nigeria in March and a 2-1 defeat to Sudan in June.

When Otieno’s charges take to the field tonight, his hopes will be based on France-based striker, Dennis Oliech, and AFC Leopards striker, Mike Baraza, to stretch the home defence and score goals.

Oliech scored the only goal of the game when both sides met in Nairobi six years ago thanks to an error by goalkeeper Modiri Marumo. 

Still the Kenyans come here being haunted by a 2-1 defeat they suffered against the Zebras during the 2006 World Cup/African Cup of Nations qualifier.

The Harambee Stars are likely to be cheered by thousands as there are lots of Kenyans staying in Botswana. There is no doubt that they would be at the stadium as this is a rare chance to see their stars in action.

Zebras coach Stanley Tshosane was a happy man when they returned from the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, last week where his side was going under an intensive training.
The Zebras were without their South African-based players but those who were available did enough to impress the coach.

The Zebras thumped Swaziland 2-0 in a friendly game before they returned home last week.

By Monday morning, all the foreign-based stars were already here except the SuperSport United duo of Mogogi Gabonamong and Dipsy Selolwane.

As has been the case in the past, Cape Town Santos striker Jerome Ramatlhakwana will lead the search for goals.

Ramatlhakwana has been key to the Zebras’ qualification for the 2012 AFCON games.

Goalkeeper Marumo also remains a key figure in the team as his experience has bailed the Zebras in recent years. Since July last year, the Zebras have only lost one game against Sweden in the 15 games they have played under coach Tshosane.

Tickets for the game are selling at P50 (western stands) and P30 elsewhere.

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The Telegraph November 25

Digital edition of The Telegraph, November 25, 2020.