ANGER rather than surprise was the reaction to Kenya’s elimination from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers by humble Lesotho.
Almost non-existent preparation had Kenya cobbling together a team overnight; from a bunch of foreign-based players whose form proved woeful. Lesotho, leading form a 1-0 victory earlier in Maseru, cleverly frustrated the Kenyans to a 0-0 draw in Nairobi.
The local Football Kenya Federation [FKF], almost in rage minutes after the match ended was holding a Press conference in a stadium room to fire all the Harambee Stars’ management while irate fans were berating Victor Wanyama the captain accusing the players for having being a letdown.
Later, when it was reported that the FKF may hire another coach, it will be for a long idle stint because the full Kenya national soccer team will be out of major international football for a long time save for the qualification attempt for the 2016 Olympic Games, an event where there is an Under-23-years age restriction.
Meanwhile there were bright prospects among Kenya’s Cecafa [Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations] neighbours to qualify for the 2015 AFCON finals in Morocco next January.
Rwanda sensationally eliminated Congo Brazzaville to go into the last Group ‘A’ of qualification. They will accompany fellow Cecafa member, Sudan to play Africa champions Nigeria and former title holders South Africa.
Ethiopia, who did not have to take part in the preliminaries will contest Group ‘B’ and have as good a chance of qualifying against Algeria, Mali and Malawi. Uganda eliminated Mauritania and will contest Group ‘E’ with Ghana, Guinea and Togo.
“We are very well poised to take a team or two to the Morocco,” said Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye.
“Rwanda has worked hard and smartly.They join a tough group against especially Nigeria and South Africa, but the Amavubi’s morale has been massively boosted by that elimination of Congo Brazzaville and I believe they will do well.
“Rwanda and Sudan should pay keen attention and ensure good home results against Nigeria and South Africa in each case and then anything can happen.”
Musonye added: “Ethiopia have an excellent chance against Algeria, Mali and Malawi. There has been a lot of good work in Addis [Ababa] in the past two years; in fact their elimination at the last hurdle by Nigeria from a 2014 World Cup slot is testimony.
“I have to say Uganda have a big obstacle to go over in Group ‘E’ against Ghana and Togo who have been to the World Cup and the traditionally strong Guinea. But our Cranes brothers should give it their best shot. They are always good in Kampala so they should aim at three home wins and contest the away fixtures as much as they can.”
The two top teams from the seven groups have automatic qualification to Morocco.
“Losing Kenya and Tanzania, key members of Cecafa, is disheartening. Tanzania were up against [Mozambique] formidable regular campaigners in the AFCON while Kenya should have easily gone over Lesotho. However, not taking home advantage by both our teams became the doom.”
Kenya could only draw 0-0 with Lesotho in the decider in Nairobi while Tanzania, held 2-2 in Dar es Salaam by Mozambique went down 1-2 in Maputo on Sunday.
“The writing is on the wall, in these competition people are serious; you blink and you are in trouble. It is a disaster for Kenya to be out of top-flight international football until 2017.
Reap the fruits
“I have confidence in the Rwanda, Sudan and Ethiopia FAs. They are focused and definitely will reap fruits for their labour.”
During the Kenya defeat by Lesotho in Nairobi the FKF coach, Belgian coach Adel Amrouche watched the game from the stands after being issued with a one-year ban after the first leg loss for allegedly spitting at an official in an earlier qualifier.
Kenya fielded many foreign-based players whose recent activity was unknown including Victor Wanyama [Southampton], McDonald Mariga [Internazionale], David “Cheche” Ochieng’ [Al Taawuon], Lawrence Olum [Sporting Kansas City], Peter Opiyo [FF Jaro], Dennis Oliech [Ajaccio], Francis Kahata [KF Tirana], Jamal Mohammed [Dhofar SCSSC], Paul Were [Amazulu], Allan Wanga [El Merreikh] and Edwin Lavatsa [club less and recently of MC Alger].
Harambee Stars could not find the breakthrough to cancel out BushiMoletsane’s lone goal from the first leg in Maseru two weeks ago.
Lesotho will now play in Group ‘C’ of the qualifiers where they will face Angola, Burkina Faso and Gabon.
There was better news for Kenya’s East African neighbours Uganda, who beat hosts ten-man Mauritania 1-0.
The only goal of the game came in injury time as Robert Ssentongo bundled the ball over the line to make it 3-0 to Uganda on aggregate.
Hosts Mauritania played the final 10 minutes with ten men after the dismissal of substitute KaramokoTraore.
Earlier Mozambique ensured their passage into the group stages too with a 2-1 win over visiting Tanzania, to give them a 4-3 overall win.
The Mambas took the lead in added time at the end of the first-half through Josimar.
TP Mazembe striker MbwanaSamatta gave Tanzania some hope with a second-half strike but Elias DominguesPelembe gave the hosts the win.
Pelembe was playing his second game in as many days having come on as a substitute for his South African side MamelodiSundowns on Saturday afternoon.
Mozambique go through to Group ‘F’ of the qualifiers where Cape Verde, Niger and Zambia await.
A total of 28 nations will play in 7 groups in September, October and November to decide who will join hosts Morocco in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The top two from each group and the best third-placed team will progress to the tournament that kicks off in January.