Kenya U-20 national football team upbeat ahead of regional tie

Kenya U-20 national football team head coach Stanley Okumbi says his team will have to be at its best to win the upcoming Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) tournament in Uganda.

Okumbi challenged the team to emulate their U-15 counterparts who went all the way to the finals of their recent tournament before losing to Uganda in Djibouti last month.

The coach has kept on several players who were part of the squad that lost to Rwanda in the CAF Africa U-20 Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“We hope the experience gained will help the team play better in Gulu. The age group tournaments are important in the development of the team,” said Okumbi on Monday.

11 teams will compete in the tournament, with Kenya pooled into Group B alongside Ethiopia, Zanzibar and Tanzania. Hosts Uganda, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti make up Group A, while Burundi, South Sudan, and Somalia constitute Group C.

The top three teams from Group A and B will join the top two from Group C in the quarterfinals.

CECAFA secretary-general Nicholas Musonye has assured teams of their safety in the northern Uganda town of Gulu.

“There is a lot of peace in Gulu, mark my words. We know what we are doing,” said Musonye. “This tournament, we are planning it together with my colleagues in the region and the government. We want not only to promote talent, but also to take football to the grassroots,” he added.

The coach has offered Musa Masika, younger brother of Beijing Renhe striker Ayub Timbe, a chance to lead Kenya’s attack in Uganda.

“We want to emulate the senior national team by winning the tournament,” said Masika.

– Source XINHUA