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Harambee Stars go Shark hunting in Kasarani

Can Harambee Stars silence the highly-rated Cape Verde? This is the lingering question among the local football fanatics ahead of Friday evening’s 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier between Bobby Williamson’s charges and the Blue Sharks.

The clash is primed for the Nyayo Stadium from 4pm.

This contest, against the third-ranked team in Africa, is the most challenging assignment for the Stars (position 38) this year.

RUSSIA WORLD CUP

This tie’s aggregate winner will sail through to the group stage competition where top-ranked teams at the end of the qualifiers in the five groups will earn a ticket to the global football bonanza in Russia.

Tanzania-based forward Allan Wanga is however optimistic that the hosts will triumph this evening. “We have a history of playing well against big teams at home.

At the moment, everyone in camp has an idea of what we are up against and what is at stake. The focus and determination is also there,” the 28-year-old Azam striker told Daily Nation Sport yesterday.

“I urge the fans to come out in large numbers to drive us on because we can make it.”

Williamson sounded confident on Thursday that his players will pick up a first leg advantage, even as he played down the absence of a number of foreign-based players he called up for this assignment for various reasons.

Those set to miss this match are;  Arnold Origi (Lillestrom, Norway), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Jacob Keli (Nkana FC, Zambia) and Ayub Timbe (Lierse, Belgium).

FORMIDABLE OPPONENT

“We played well in our last assignment (against Mauritius) but I have told the lads they are coming up against a more formidable opponent. We need to be attentive to every small detail for the entire game over the two legs,” Williamson said.

Captain Victor Wanyama, his midfield partner Johanna Omollo, forward Michael Olunga, Zesco United defender David Owino are expected to play a vital role in this tie.

Cape Verde boast of a highly experienced squad including French-based forwards Ryan Mendes, Odair and Julio Fortes, alongside Rio Ave’s attacker Heldon.

Other notable players for coach Rui Aguas side are first choice custodian Kevin who turns out for Portuguese first division side Nacional and Steaua Bucharest defender Fernando Varela.

“I don’t care about rankings. I am sure Kenya want to win tomorrow (today) but we are here to prevent that. I have seen they play well if given freedom but struggle under pressure. Tomorrow (fRIday) is one game and after four days is second game,” Aguas said after the team’s training session at Nyayo on Thursday evening.