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Kenya’s Harambee stars ready for COSAFA challenge

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Kenya’s national football team, the Harambee Stars, are set to make their second appearance in the COSAFA Cup, having debuted in the 2013 tournament held in Zambia. Despite an early exit in their initial outing, the team showcased potential, hinting at a promising performance in the upcoming competition.

In their 2013 debut, Kenya started with a 2-2 draw against Lesotho, followed by a convincing 2-0 victory over Eswatini.

However, their hopes were dashed after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Botswana, preventing them from advancing to the knockout stages.

This year, they face a formidable challenge in Group B alongside seven-time champions Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the Comoros Islands.

Kenya’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has seen them qualify six times, most recently in 2019.

However, they have struggled to progress beyond the group stages, securing only two wins in 17 AFCON matches.

These victories came against Burkina Faso in 2004 (3-1) and regional rivals Tanzania in 2019 (3-2), showcasing their ability to compete on the continental stage.

The Harambee Stars have a rich history in regional competitions, winning the CECAFA Cup seven times, with their most recent triumph in 2017.

They have also been runners-up seven times. Currently, Kenya is competing in the qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, aiming to make their mark on the global stage.

The squad for this year’s COSAFA Cup comprises a mix of experienced players and promising talent.

The goalkeepers include Bryne Omondi (Bandari), Brian Bwire (Tusker), Sebastian Wekesa (Kariobangi Sharks), and Ibrahim Wanzala (Kakamega Homeboyz).

The defense is bolstered by Alphonce Omija (Dhofar, Oman), Paul Ochuoga (Gor Mahia), Boniface Onyango (Tusker), Geoffrey Onyango (Kariobangi Sharks), Hanniff Wesonga (KCB), Amos Wanjala (Nastic Sports Academy, Spain), Johnstone Omurwa (Portugal), Faiz Opande (USA), and Baron Ochieng (Sofapaka).

In midfield, the team features Wilson Stanley (Kariobangi Sharks), Shariff Musa (Gor Mahia), John Ochieng (Zanaco, Zambia), Anthony Akumu (Unattached), Chrispine Erambo (Tusker), Aldrine Kibet (Nastic Sports, Spain), Bajaber Mohammed (City Stars), Alpha Onyango (Gor Mahia), Austin Odhiambo (Gor Mahia), Rooney Onyango (Gor Mahia), Patrick Otieno (Posta Rangers), Hassan Beja (AFC Leopards), Emmanuel Osoro (Nzoia Sugar), William Gatimu (Bandari), Fortune Omoto (Kariobangi Sharks), and Kaycie Odhiambo (AFC Leopards).

The forwards tasked with leading the attack are Benson Omalla (Gor Mahia), Josphat Lopaga (Dynamo Brest, Belarus), Samuel Kapen (Nairobi City Stars), Moses Shummah (Kakamega Homeboyz), Zech Obiero (Leyton Orient, England), George Gitau (Middlesbrough, England), and Jeremy Bissau (Brooke House College, England).

As the Harambee Stars prepare for their COSAFA Cup campaign, the team aims to leverage their mix of seasoned professionals and emerging talents to make a significant impact.

With the determination to improve on their past performances, Kenya is poised to be a strong contender in the tournament, showcasing the depth and skill of their footballing talent on the regional stage.

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