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Buoyant Stars return to plot 2017 AFCON

17 June 2015, 08:17

Nairobi - National football team, Harambee Stars, returned home on Monday night in a hope that they can build on their solid start to their 2017 AFCON qualifiers over the weekend after forcing fancied hosts Congo Brazzaville to a 1-1 draw.

The team, that will resume training Wednesday in Nairobi, will see the foreign contingent pave way for domestic players since their next assignment is a trip to Addis Ababa to face Ethiopia in a CHAN qualifier that is open to home grown talent only.

However, a nation that has had little to cheer about in football, burst in excitement when Stars belied chaotic preparations to hold Congo who are ranked 76 places above them in the FIFA world grid to a stalemate in their 2017 AFCON qualifying opener in Owade.

Saturday's barren stalemate between 2012 champions Zambia and minnows Guinea Bissau left Group E wide open with each team on a point apiece as hopes Kenya will qualify for the finals for the first time since 2004 spread across the nation.

Paul Were's 10th minute opener for Stars was cancelled by Congo captain Prince Oniague' s penalty in the 34th minute as the Kenyans put in a commendable away performance to come away with the point.

"It's a good achievement. A lot of planning and preparation was done and we are ready for AFCON. The draw against Congo Brazzaville shows we are not leaving anything to chance," Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president, Sam Nyamweya told local website Capital Sport on Tuesday.

There is no denying, however, the result has put the sleeping East African giants who have qualified for the AFCON finals five times, 1972, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 2004, on a pedestal to launch a successful return.

According to former head coach, Jacob Mulee, who led them to their last finals in Tunisia, the team under Scotsman Bobby Williamson has all it takes to grace the continental high table when Gabon hosts the next edition in 2017.

"The team is still gaining cohesion since they were playing as a team for the first time and getting a point away is a plus. They can still move forward and get better results. For the first time we have a strong squad on the bench," Mulee said.

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- Xinhua


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