Preliminary qualifiers don't deter football fans
10 February 2014, 15:34
Nairobi - Following the country’s football fortunes improving in recent months, fans are confident the country’s senior men’s national team will progress to next year’s Orange Confederation of African Football (CAF) Africa Cup of Nations.
Followers believe that goal would be attained despite a decision CAF made in January that the team would have to use a longer route through a series of preliminaries because of the country’s low ranking in the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) table.
The Harambee Stars are ranked 109th in the world and 32nd on the continent.
Collins Kerich is hopeful the team can progress from the preliminaries and eventually qualify for the country’s prime football tournament.
Commendable performances that saw the team clinch the Council of East and Central African Football Associations (CECAFA) Senior Challenge buoy such hopes.
“We really pray and hope that this time round we will not be knocked out at the preliminary stages. I am optimistic though if the past few performances are something to go by,” said Kerich, an ardent football fan.
Another fan, Omondi Gerald, said that for Harambee Stars to show an overall good performance, professional players should join the team’s quest for victory right from the preliminary matches.
“Players should not be left to improve club performance at the expense of the country’s performance.
“Player allegiance should be to the country first,” he said.
Football Kenya Federation Chairman, Sam Nyamweya, has in the past assured fans and Kenyans at large that Harambee Stars will make it to the tournament.
Kenya last participated in the tournament in 2004 in Tunisia.
A total of 51 teams entered the qualification matches for the next edition. After the CAF Executive Committee meeting on 24 January, it was decided that the qualifiers shall be played in the format of several preliminary rounds, as well as a group phase with seven groups consisting of four teams each. The two top teams of each group will then directly qualify for the finals, along with the best third place team of the seven groups.
This was different from the original proposal, which consisted of a preliminary round followed by a group phase with twelve groups of four teams.
– CAJ News