It’s a do-or-die clash pitting Kenya’s Harambee Stars and neighbours Tanzania’s Taifa Stars who face off tonight in their Group C encounter of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Both teams lost their opening assignments by a similar 2-0 score on Sunday — Kenya to Algeria and Tanzania to Senegal — to put themselves in this delicate position.
With big guns Algeria and Senegal also in the group, Kenya and Tanzania will be going for nothing other than the three points for a third-placed finish and possible passage to the knock-out stage.
Kenya coach Sebastien Migne has hinted he will name a different first XI from the starting line-up against Algeria.
“I am looking forward for a tough game tournament. It was not a nice outing in our match against Algeria,” said the Frenchman.
“We have noted some few mistakes but I can assure you we shall offer a nice game and perhaps the biggest challenge to Tanzania. We have not been here for 15 years. We cannot throw away this chance. Our target is to win and sail to the next stage.”
The match kicks off at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo from 11pm Kenyan time in a match where a loss for either side will mark the end of their campaign in Egypt.
Japan-based Michael Olunga, will lead the attack assisted by Erick Johana, Francis Kahata and Johanna Omollo, while Captain Victor Wanyama is expected to anchor the midfield.
The absence of injured Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango might be felt though Migne has several options.
That backline will have to deal with Tanzania’s danger man and captain Mbwana Samatta of Belgian top league side – Genk.
In the last 10 meetings going back 12 years, Tanzania have won just thrice – all in Dar es Salaam meaning Kenya has never lost to Tanzania outside Tanzania.
In their last African qualifier meetings in 2003, Kenya drew 0-0 with Taifa Stars in Dar before thrashing them 3-0 in Nairobi.
Snubbed striker Allan Wanga and former international MacDonald Mariga will be at the venue to cheer and give the players motivational talks.