Kenya coach Jacob “Ghost” Mulee was guardedly optimistic of the chances of qualifying for the 2022 Fifa World Cup following the release of second round of qualification fixtures.
Kenya open their Group “E” campaign at home to Uganda on June 5 before visiting Rwanda seven days later.
Harambee Stars then play back-to-back matches against group favourites Mali in September before reverse fixtures against their East African neighbours in October.
“We dream to qualify for the World Cup. The fixture schedule is okay. We start at home and finish at home,” said Mulee, looking up after the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
“We faltered in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers because we failed to win any match at home. We will target to win at least two matches at home this time round to stand a chance.”
Winner of the group will advance to the final round of qualifiers, a two-leg home and away affair.
“Mali are favourites because of their ranking, pedigree and the fact that they qualified for the Cup of Nations,” Mulee observed.
Kenyans will be keenly waiting to see how he performs after finishing with an away victory in Lome against Togo in the Afcon qualifiers.
Football matches pitting Kenya’s Harambee Stars against Uganda Cranes at any level are usually hard-fought, exciting, filled with tension and rivalry.
Thus, the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification Group “E” opener involving these two teams at the Moi International Sports Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi in June is likely to be no different.
Historically Kenya will start as favourites against Rwanda in Kigali.
But the real acid test will come up when they travel to Bamako to face perennial Afcon contestants, the Eagles of Mali.
At position 54, Mali are the highest-placed nation in this pool on the Fifa rankings, followed by Uganda (83), Kenya (104), and Rwanda 133.
“It is important for us to start well,” said fast rising Harambee Stars forward Abdalla Hassan. “And it is possible we can win (against Uganda). We have a lot of confidence because of our recent results and they have not been performing very well,” the Bandari forward said.
Hassan hit the target for Kenya in the team’s last two matches against Egypt and Togo last month, which ended in a 1-1 draw and 2-1 win respectively.
The four points accumulated from those matches were, however, not enough for Kenya to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations set for Cameroon next year.
All the four teams from Kenya’s group are seeking a first-ever appearance at the World Cup.