Harambee Stars build up on performance against Ghana


Former Harambee Stars holding midfielder Tom Juma wants the national team to build on the confidence drawn from the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier double against West African giants Ghana for a successful outing in Egypt.

Juma said Stars stand a big chance of reaching the second round as long as are able to replicate their performance against Ghana when they come up against Senegal and Algeria in the group stages.

Stars are drawn in a relatively tough Pool C alongside neighbours Tanzania and the two pre-tournament favourites but Juma is bullish that Kenya will advance to the next round if they can build upon their performance against Ghana.

Kenya produced an upset in the qualifiers where they humbled the much-fancied Ghanaian team 1-0 at home and against the odds narrowly lost 1-0 in the return match in Accra to finish second in the qualifying group.

Juma, a member of the Stars team which finished third in their group during the 2004 finals played in Tunisia, feels Kenya’s displays against the Black Stars in both legs indicates that they have come of age and will force their name in the knockout stages.

Juma, who boasts of four goals and 40 national team appearances reckons that by playing Ghana, the team is already privy of how they will handle Senegal and Algeria who are expected to trouble them in the group stages.

The former AFC Leopards player is certain that four points are all the team will require to sail to the round of 16 and should not lose the first and the Tanzanian encounters.

“Our chances in Egypt are high if only we can build on our performance against Ghana. The two games exposed the players and the technical bench to the calibre of matches and opponents they will face in the finals.

“We take on Senegal and Algeria who are Ghana’s equals and if we can match the latter, then I see no problem handling the two.

“We should win the Tanzania match by all costs and at least share spoils with the two—a result which will guarantee us a place in the second round. Before then, we should not lose the first match as it will disorient the team’s plan.”

Juma, who currently serves as Leopards’ team manager also banks his knockout dream on the cohesion of the team under coach Sebastien Migne. Since taking over last year in May, Migne has exhibited faith in his starting team with often little changes necessitated by injuries and suspensions.

“We are heading to the finals with a squad that has gelled well and requires little beefing. The coach knows the ilk of players at his disposal and how to use them unlike some years ago where players and the coach had no formula and the understanding derived from playing together for a long time.

“The team is stable as there is a clear plan in each department and every player understands the strengths and weaknesses of their teammates. We also have the professional players to look up to since they have been exposed to high profile matches and leagues and know the weight of the task ahead of them. They should motivate the locally based ones and guide them on the pitch,” he added.

Juma, popularly christened as Gaza within the Kenyan football circles, further said the way the country prepares and remunerate the players will dictate the performance in Cairo. The team is expected to pitch camp in Paris for 19 days starting May 31.

“The program for the team this time around is well organised and has the players’ welfare well catered for unlike in the past. This time, their welfare is well taken care of and I am sure they will try to give their best shot,” he added.










Source link