Kenya's national soccer team coach Sebastien Migne says his side is under pressure to win as he takes up his first major assignment with the Harambee Stars when they face Ghana's Black Stars in Nairobi on Saturday.
The Frenchman takes charge of the national team in a major competition for the first time. He will start on a precarious note as his side must avoid defeat to hold any hopes of making it to the finals of the Africa Nations Cup in Cameroon in 2019.
Migne has expressed satisfaction with the players' fitness and motivation ahead of the all-important clash. "We are working on getting ready for the match. Ghana will pose a tough challenge but I have trust in my players and I'm confident they will get a positive result," Migne said on Tuesday in Nairobi.
To revive their hopes of qualification, Kenya needs maximum points against Ghana, who are top of Group F. The Africa Nations Cup qualifiers started in 2017 but Kenya lost 2-1 to Sierra Leone in Freetown while Ethiopia went down 5-0 to Ghana in Accra. Only the 12 group winners and the three runners up with the most points will join Cameroon in finals.
Kenya last competed in the AFCON finals in 2004 in Tunisia and Migne was appointed with a specific clause inserted into his four year contract to try and help Kenya qualify for the World Cup or the Africa Nations Cup. Migne has five days to prepare his side in a training camp in Nairobi. The majority of the players who are based overseas are due in on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The scramble for a ticket to the finals is brutal with former champions pitted against each other. In the other groups Cameroon, who qualify automatically as hosts, are in Group B alongside 1976 champions Morocco, Malawi and Mauritius. In Group J, record seven-time winners Egypt lead North African rivals Tunisia, who won in 2004. Two-time winners Nigeria are in the same group as South Africa in Group E.
Group G also features a clash between neighbors Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with both sides having previously lifted the trophy. Should the Indomitable Lions top their group, the second-placed side in Group B will contest the finals.