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Why Harambee Stars need to be wary of Chipolopolo

Harambee stars striker Dennis Oliech vies for an aerial ball against Stoppila Sunzu of Zambia during their Africa Cup of Nation Qualifier match at Nyayo stadium on Sep.6 2015 [PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

If there was a moment the national football team would have wished for top-class performance, then it must be today.

For more than seven months, football enthusiasts have known no local football, just being accustomed to the foreign leagues.

But when Zambia’s Chipolopolo coming calling in the 4pm international friendly match at Nyayo Stadium, Harambee Stars will be hoping to register their seventh win against the Zambians in all competition.

This will be the first football match in the country since sports activities were shut by the government after the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya in March.

Both Kenya and Zambia will be using the fixture, which will be played behind closed doors, to prepare for next month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers.

As Kenya will be battling out with Comoros in a two-legged Group G encounter, Zambia will be facing Botswana in Group H ties.

But going history books between the two teams, the 2012 African champions have proved to be a hard nut to crack for Harambee Stars.

Harambee Star’s Noah Wafula and Zambia’s Chipolopolo’s Stoppila Sunzu, left, during African Cup Of Nations Qualifier clash at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday, Sept 3, 2015. [PHOTO/ JONAH ONYANGO]

Since 1964, Kenya has won six in 36 matches against the Zambians, lost 23 times and drawn seven times.

It’s almost two decades since Kenya last defeated Zambia. Stars won 2-1 in a friendly match on January 5, 2001.

But having featured in both legs of their last 2017 Afcon qualifiers meetings in Nairobi (Kenya lost 1-2) and Ndola (drew 1-1), experienced Harambee Stars defender Brian Mandela is confident of a positive outing.

The unattached defender, who missed the 2019 Afcon finals in Egypt due to injury, is encouraged by the morale in camp.

“There is high morale in the camp. It has been long since we last played and everybody is all looking forward to the match,” said Mandela.

But it will not be a walk in the park for head coach Francis Kimanzi’s men as they will have to do without the services of the dependable quintet of Victor Wanyama (Montreal Impact, Canada), Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol, Japan), Arnold Origi (HIFK, Finland), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China) and Johanna Omolo (Cercle Brugge K.S.V, Belgium) and Joseph Okumu (Elfsborg, Sweden). The five players are away due to Covid-19 related travelling restrictions.

Harambee Stars players during morning training session at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi on October 07, 2020 ahead of their International Friendly match against Zambia at Nyayo national stadium on Friday, October 09, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

 

Read the Original Article on The Standard