Harambee Stars forward Abdalla Hassan has backed Kenya to upstage rivals Uganda in the opening clash of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
As per the fixture roster released Thursday evening by the Confederation of African Football (Caf), Stars will play host to Uganda Cranes at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, in the opener on June 5 or 6, before traveling to face Rwanda's Amavubi in Kigali a week later.
A double-header fixture against Mali, the other team in Kenya's group is set for Bamako and Nairobi respectively between September 3 and 8, before the rematch against Uganda in Kampala and Rwanda in Nairobi in October.
Matches between Kenya and Uganda are not only hotly contested, but also exhibit excitement and rivalry between both sets of fans.
"It is important to start well, with a win. It is possible we can win (against Uganda) because we have a lot of confidence because of the results we posted in the last few matches," the Bandari FC forward argued.
Uganda have harvested more success than Kenya in recent times, including successive qualifications to both the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) but these two teams drew 1-1 in the last meeting, an international friendly, in Nairobi in September of 2019.
Kenya and Uganda have consistently come short of qualifying for the World Cup and the two teams are reeling from failing to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
And Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa argues that Stars will have a better chance of performing well in this competition if the government lifts the ban on sports activities imposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.
"We experienced it while playing Togo (in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers) last week. The local league has stopped for a while now and the players struggled to find their rhythm, and fatigue crept in especially in the second half. We are in talks with the government and hope to arrive at a solution," he explained.
Kenya v Uganda - 5th/6th June
Rwanda v Kenya - 12th/13th June
Mali v Kenya - 3rd/4th Sept.
Kenya v Mali - 6th/7th Sept.
Uganda v Kenya - 6th/7th Oct.
Kenya v Rwanda - 11th/12th Oct