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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya team off to Ethiopia for Africa Nations Cup qualification   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s national team Harambee Stars’ first batch of players jetted out Saturday for Ethiopia to face host soccer team in the Africa Nations Cup qualifier match on Wednesday.

A contingent of seven including five players and national head coach Sebastian Migne will be the first in Ethiopia before a legion of foreign based players and second batch of local players join them on Monday.

Kenya faces two matches in one week against Ethiopia and coach Migne said they have no choice but to win.

However, their qualification process has been complicated after world football governing body, FIFA suspended Sierra Leone from the campaign.

It leaves just three teams in Group F meaning that all the teams will forfeit the points earned against Sierra Leone in the qualifiers.

Kenya, which had lost 2-1 in Freetown in 2017, will get a reprieve as it will lose no points. However, Ethiopia, who beat the West African side 2-1 last month, will forfeit their points.

It means both Kenya and Ghana hold three points apiece while Ethiopia is bottom with no points from Group F. Kenya needs three more points against Ethiopia to seal at least number two spot from this group.

Migne says focus should be on Ethiopia and believes his team will have no problems traveling to Bahir Dar in Ethiopia.

The second batch will travel on Monday, with foreign-based players also set to link up with the team in Ethiopia on the same day.

The coach expressed optimism that Harambee Stars will give a good account of themselves.

He said captain Victor Wanyama’s inclusion is a big boost to the team’s pursuit for a second appearance at the continental showpiece in the last two decade.

“Of course it won’t be easy against Ethiopia since they are also equally strong, but my players are up to the task and I am confident we will get a positive result,” said Migne.

“We won against Ghana without our captain, it will be morale boosting for us to also win with him. He is one of our most experienced players and will be crucial for us against Ethiopia.”

The match has been slated for Wednesday in Bahir Dar, with the return leg set to be played on Sunday, Oct. 14 in Nairobi.

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UPDATE:

Kenya focus on Ethiopia despite suspension of Sierra Leone by FIFA

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s head coach Sebastian Migne has called on his team to focus on their next assignment against Ethiopia in the Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) qualifiers.

This move comes after world football governing body FIFA suspended Sierra Leone leaving the AFCON Group F in confusion of what will happen next.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council suspended Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) with immediate effect due to government interference.

Whereas Kenya will be meeting Ethiopia on Wednesday in the AFCON qualifiers away in Addis Ababa and host them in Nairobi on Oct 13, Ghana is meant to play Sierra Leone in Accra before traveling to Free Town for the return leg clash.

“Our focus is on Ethiopia,” said Migne on Saturday in Nairobi. “What happens is not for us to decide. We need to win our next two matches to live our dream of qualifying to the 2019 AFCON finals in Cameroon.”

Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia are in Group F and only the winner of the group will join hosts Cameroon in the finals next year in June.

But with the suspension of Sierra Leone, FIFA is yet to determine the course of action to be taken.

The decision comes after a recent letter from FIFA to the Minister of Sports of Sierra Leone to express grave concern about the removal of the SLFA President and the SLFA General Secretary and to request that both be allowed to access the SLFA premises without further delay to ensure that the operations of the SLFA, including FIFA-funded projects, are not jeopardized.

“The suspension will be lifted once the SLFA and its recognized leadership have confirmed to FIFA that the SLFA administration, premises, accounts and communication channels are under their control once again,” said FIFA.

“Following its suspension Sierra Leone’s national team and clubs are no longer entitled to take part in international competitions until the suspension is lifted. Other member associations may not entertain sporting contact with the SLFA during its suspension.” 

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EARLIER REPORT:

Kenya faces acid test against Ethiopia in battle for Africa Nations Cup slot

NAIROBI  (Xinhua) -- Kenya coach Sebastian Migne has warned his team they hold the destiny in their hands in their bid to break the duck and secure qualification to the Africa Nations Cup finals.

It is over a decade since Kenya competed at the premier football tournament in the continent and the French coach believes the current team has the capacity to edge out giants Ghana, Malawi and Ethiopia to emerge top in Group F.

Kenya will have back to back matches against Ethiopia in Bahir Dar in Ethiopia on Wednesday and host their rivals in Nairobi on Oct. 13.

“The two matches will make or break our dreams of returning to the Africa Nations Cup finals in Cameroon in 2019. All the teams have three points and six more points will push us to the summit, which will be important as we wait for Ghana and Malawi matches in November,” Migne said on Friday in Nairobi.

A team of 11 players are already in camp in Nairobi having pitched training camp for the last three days.

The team will depart for Addis Ababa on Sunday, where the coach expects to link up with the foreign legion of stars plying their trade in Europe and South Africa.

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