- Cecafa teams Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania face tall order in their quest for success in Egypt
- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have some similarities as they head into the biennial continental championship.
- It is the first time the four Cecafa teams are appearing in the competition at the same time since inception of the tournament in 1957.
The four Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) teams that qualified for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament have a lot of homework to do if they are to measure up to the big boys in the 32nd edition of the championship to be held in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have some similarities as they head into the biennial continental championship. One, it is the first time the four Cecafa teams are appearing in the competition at the same time since inception of the tournament in 1957.
Secondly, four coaches in charge of these Cecafa teams will be making their debut in Africa’s premier football tournament barely a year since taking the jobs.
Kenya and neighbours Tanzania were pooled in Group C alongside Senegal and Algeria while Uganda landed in Group A with the hosts Egypt, DR Congo and Zimbabwe. Burundi are in Group B with three-time champions Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and former Harambee Stars coach Paul Put-led Guinea.
Save for Uganda, the other three Cecafa teams qualified as runners-up in their respective groups and are direct beneficiaries of the expansion of the tournament from 16 to 24 teams.
The four will be looking to upset the big boys in the tournament, among them unprecedented seven-time champions Egypt, reigning champions Cameroon who have won the title five times, four-time winners Ghana, and three-time champions Nigeria.
But what must these teams do to achieve this? Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne is arguably the luckiest of the four coaches, having already planned a pre-tournament camp in France. Migne, 46, must utilise the three-week camp to build team cohesion and lay out strategies and test them through friendly matches.
To finish in the top two, Migne will need another magic, the kind he used to shock Ghana 1-0 in September that rekindled Kenya’s hopes of qualification, to upset Senegal and Algeria in Group C and stand a chance of reaching the knock-out stage.
Kenya are winless in four meetings against Senegal, with just a single game between the two teams ending in a draw – the 0-0 stalemate in March 1990.
Kenya has played Algeria seven times, winning thrice, losing thrice and drawing once.
Tanzania could be Kenya’s Achilles heels in the group. The two teams have met 60 times with Kenya winning 24 times, while 17 games between them have ended in a draw.