The last time Kenya competed at the Africa Cup of Nations finals 22 years ago, their present captain Victor Wanyama was only a one year old toddler.
This Friday 30th May, when Kenya takes its first round first leg 1-0 lead to the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros in an attempt to get to the final round which would pave the way for a group-phase place, Wanyama is already dreaming big.
He is dreaming of playing at the Africa Cup of Nations finals and that dream is fuelled by the lofty ambitions of playing alongside the continent’s best on Africa’s biggest stage. But in him is also the dread of failure; the fear of retiring having never played at an Afcon final. Since he was born, the Africa Cup has, for him and the present Harambee Stars, been a special stage only perceived from afar, but now he believes he can lead a this new generation to the final tournament.
“We all want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations final because most of us have never been there. It is our hunger and thirst and we are working hard to get there. We all share the same dream and vision and we are hungry for that,” Wanyama said as the Harambee Stars set off for the Indian Ocean islands on Wednesday.
“It would be a shame for our current generation of players if we retired from international football without representing the country in a big tournament like the Africa Cup,” the Kenya skipper who plies his trade with English premiership side Southampton said adding: “This journey (to Morocco 2015) has started and we must work hard against Comoros to win and move on to the next round. We are climbing each ladder as it comes and hopefully we will get there. We are taking it match by match and I am optimistic if we keep working hard we will get there.”
Wanyama said the team had prepared well and reckons the first leg solitary strike that gave them the edge over Comoros could prove decisive.
“It will not be easy in Comoros but we are going there to get the win for Kenyans, who want to see their team play in the Cup of Nations final. If we manage to get a goal earlier, I think we will have a big advantage and that is our target. They will not sit deep and defend and that will give us an opportunity to exploit them as well,” he said.
“They will be under more pressure because they will come hard with an attacking mind. We will try to contain them and having managed a clean sheet at home, an away goal will be an added advantage to us.”
As Kenya flew out to Comoros, several key players including France based Dennis Oliech, South Africa based Brian Mandela, James Mulinge (Ulinzi Stars) and Anthony Okumu (Gor Mahia) were not in the 19-man travelling party.
But Wanyama is confident coach Adel Amrouche’s assemblage is good enough to deliver and get into the final round which will determine the last seven places for the group stages.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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