I know I am. Coming off the back of two straight group stage eliminations, and at least 2 coaching changes in the last 2 years, Kenya’s national football team have certainly come together impressively this CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. Now one step away from winning the title for the 1st time since 2002, it is certainly a massive change of fortunes in a very short time.
They now face a very familiar foe Uganda in a stadium where they haven’t lost to anyone in 8 years. This is the same Uganda team that beat Kenya 1-0 in the opening match, but based on the performances I’ve seen it will not be the same Harambee Stars that walk out onto the field in the final. They bounced back admirably to dispatch South Sudan 2-0, and then Ethiopia, on a nightmare pitch, 3-1, to qualify for the quarterfinals. There they edged out Malawi 1-0, and then came from behind twice (the 2nd time after a really dubious penalty) to edge out Zanzibar on penalties in the semifinals. In doing so they showed a level of resilience that hasn’t often been associated with the Harambee Stars over the past decade. This time around there has been alot of the ‘Harambee’ spirit of pulling together. So far this tournament there has been star quality, with veterans like Mike Baraza, coming strong against Zanzibar, and newcomers like Rama Salim playing with confidence and verve throughout. Save for the ‘loin-soothing’ antics of Paul Were and Kevin Omondi, team discipline and morale are reportedly good.
Uganda, on the other hand, have been imperious. They have won pretty much every hand they have played so far. Over the past 4 or so years they have been the polar opposite of Kenya. Stability, where we’ve had chaos, direction where we’ve been all over the place. Most importantly dominance in the CECAFA Cup where we have struggled to make an impact. No doubt there will be alot of Kenyans making the trip to Namboole, so the good advantage thing might be dulled. Nonetheless Kenya will really be up against it versus Uganda. Not just because it is a cup final, but because it is a local derby with decades of history behind it and this blogger hopes that our boys can come out victorious. Either way it has been a very good showing.