Kenya in do-or-die Senegal match

Monday July 01 2019

Kenyan coach Sebastien Migne (left) with Johanna Omollo during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, on June 30, 2019 on the eve of their Africa Cup of Nations match against Senegal. PHOTO | COURTESY |

Three days ago Kenya faced a fight to stay alive in Group ‘C’ and they did it with a brave 3-2 win over Tanzania.

On Monday, they face a battle to survive in the tournament with a daunting fixture against Africa’s top ranked nation - Senegal - at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo, kick off 9pm local time (10pm Kenyan time).

And while Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne has said Kenya have nothing to lose - after notching up only their second win in the history of the tournament - they have everything to gain from getting points against a nation ranked 83 places higher than them in the world.


The question on the minds of Harambee Stars fans these past few days has been, can Kenya do it?

History and form say an emphatic no.


Kenya has never beaten Senegal. The two teams have previously met three times, all at the Africa Cup of Nations. Their first meeting in 1990 ended 0-0.

The Teranga Lions mauled Kenya 3-0 two years later and again 3-0 in 2004.

And on paper the two teams are worlds apart. Senegal were at the 2018 World Cup, qualified for the Nations Cup unbeaten and have a fearsome attack line boasting of deadly attacker, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Inter Milan’s Keita Balde and Rennes’s Mbaye Niang.

Little wonder Kenya coach Sebastien Migne publicly declared his respect on Sunday: “Senegal are the number one team in Africa. They have so many qualities and maybe the best player of the season in Mane. It will be a privilege and a pleasure playing them.”

His counterpart Aliou Cisse did not mince any words.

“We have no choice. We have to beat Kenya,” he said.

Both teams are tied on three points and fighting for a top two finish that will guarantee passage to the round of 16. Algeria, who play Tanzania, lead the group on six points.

Senegal, even without Mane, showed their attacking flair against Tanzania, dismissing them 2-0 and could have scored more but for wastefulness.

The Liverpool forward returned for the big clash against Algeria but was given little room by the clever Desert Foxes who won by a solitary goal.

The wounded Teranga Lions are expected to come out all fangs and claws and it may be a matter of how long will the brittle Kenyan defence, that has soaked in four goals in two matches, hold out.


Migne declared all his players were available for selection and the steady Joash Onyango may well play his first part in this tournament paired with young US-based Joseph Okumu.

Wanyama should hold the midfield together and it will be crucial for Kenya to fight for the space in this area in order to disrupt the Senegalese and also build their own play.

Kenya new all-time top scorer at the Afcon Michael Olunga has shown that with more ball on his feet he can duly deliver and he could be the key to Harambee Stars’ passage to the second round.

Senegal will certainly be nervous and will want to score early. How Kenya deal with that will set the tone for the match.

Migne has talked about small teams dreaming big and Kenya will have their chance, in a difficult situation, and against formidable opponents, to do just that.