Nandwa tips Stars to qualify ahead of Comoros showdown
Kenya versus Comoros 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Kasarani Stadium on November 11, 2020. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

National team departs for Moroni seeking to keep 2021 Afcon qualification hopes alive.

Former Harambee Stars coach James Nandwa believes the national team still has a chance to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations despite being frustrated to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Comoros in Wednesday’s first leg tie at Kasarani Stadium.

Algerian-based striker Masud Juma cancelled out Comoros captain Youssouf M’changama’s first half wonder goal to help Kenya secure their third consecutive 1-1 draw in the qualifiers.

The draw left Kenya second in Group G (three points), two points behind leaders Comoros and one ahead of Egypt who clash with visiting Togo in Cairo today.

Kenya held Egypt to a famous 1-1 away draw in the opening match of the qualification campaign before registering an identical result against Togo in Nairobi.

Even though Stars’ path to Cameroon now looks narrower after failing to pick a win in their three fixtures, Nandwa is optimistic the team can turn the tables on the Islanders when they face-off in tomorrow’s return leg encounter in Moroni.

Nandwa tips Stars to qualify ahead of Comoros showdown
Thika United coach James Nandwa against Posta Rangers during their KPL match at Thika Municipal stadium on Saturday 02/04/16.PHOTO.BONIFACE OKENDO

After tomorrow’s game, Kenya will have to wait until next year to host the Pharaohs on March 22 before wrapping up their campaign with a trip to Lome against Togo on March 30.

Having been Adel Amrouche’s assistant when Harambee Stars beat Comoros 1-0 in Nairobi before drawing 1-1 in Moroni to progress to the second round of the 2015 Afcon qualifiers, the former AFC Leopards and Tusker coach feels good organisation and an early goal could be significant for Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee’s boys.

“I think they didn’t play well in the first half because there was no coordination, but they improved in the second half and created many chances,” Nandwa said.

“But as we go to Moroni, we must be organised, defend well and make good use of our chances. Our main problem has been maintaining possession and scoring. I think if we do that, we can get some positive results there. We really need a positive result in order to keep our 2021 Afcon qualification hopes alive.

He said the boys seem ready and have the fighting spirit. He said they need to work on finishing.

It is in Moroni where former Beijing Renhe and Reading winger Ayub Timbe scored a sublime goal from free-kick on his debut to help Stars advance to the next round on an aggregate score of 2-1.

“I was with Harambee Stars when we played them in 2014. The pitch is small like City Stadium and we will only have a great advantage if there will be no fans. But it‘s my hope that Timbe will repeat what he did there in the previous return leg,” Nandwa added.

“Comoros is a strong team, but we equally have a good team. We just need to be sharp upfront and defend solidly as a team. I believe we still have a chance to make it to Cameroon.”

Timbe sounded confident that the impossible can be made possible as the team departs for Moroni today.

“Unlucky with the results last night (Wednesday) but the fighting spirit was there. On to the next one on Sunday with better results,” Timbe wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Uganda defeated minnows South Sudan 1-0 with an 86th minute goal from Halid Lwaliwa on Thursday.

In another match, Vincent Aboubakar scored the opening two goals for Cameroon as they easily dealt with Mozambique in a 4-1 victory in Group F in Douala.

The other goals came from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Clinton Njie while Kamo-Kamo netted a consolation for the visitors. Cameroon will host the finals but, opted to participate in the group matches.

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