• Alasdair Howorth

Comoros seeking a win over Kenya and first ever qualification for a major tournament

Kick Off: Sun15 November 2020, 16:00 PM GMT

Venue: Stade omnisports de Malouzini, Moroni, Comoros

 

After the teams' 1-1 draw on Wednesday, Comoros sit on top of Group G in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 qualifying, three points ahead of their East African rivals.

In the reverse fixture, the sides played out a tight draw in an empty Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. the visiting Coelacanths (named after a rare fish found off the Comorean coast) were the better side in the first half, playing with a flat 4-4-2 and pressing high. They denied Kenya's captain Victor Wanyama any space in the middle of the park to find either of Kenya's dangerous wide men, Cliff Nyakeya and Ayub Timbe. It was the Coelacanths who struck first with star player Youssouf M'Changama striking an excellent free kick full of movement which wrong footed Kenyan goal keeper Arnold Origi.


Kenya slowly grew into the game, but the Comoros created the better chances. Kenya were in need of some respite, and they got in the shape of an extraordinary sending off. Ahmed Mogni won a freekick for the Comoros just inside the Kenya half. As he was on the side line M'changama set up to take the freekick, before being booked for time wasting. Having received a booking early in the match M'changama was promptly set off to his fury. The goal scorer had to be removed from the pitch as he flew into a rage. A rage that was seemingly justified as he had hardly taken any time on the freekick and never deserved a booking.


With 60 minutes remaining it was always going to be a difficult task to keep Kenya out, and as the Comoros retreated further and further back in the second half Kenya took charge. They dominated possession and created plenty of good chances. However, the absence of striker and star player Micheal Olunga, left Kenya lacking a cutting edge and they had to settle for just the one goal and one point.

With M'changama suspended and the Comoros also missing key players Faïz Selemani, Fouad Bachirou, and Chaher Alhadhur it will be a much tougher task for the Coelacanths. However, they still have quality in a team predominantly plying their trade in the French League 1 and League 2 and an in form scorer El Fardou Ben who starts for Red Star Belgrade in Serbia. The side will also take heart from the fact that before the sending off, they dominated Kenya in Nairobi. They were excellent tactically in their middle block press and looked the more dangerous in attack. And while they will be missing their creative chief in the centre of the park, they still possess the tools to create chances going forward.


For Kenya, coach Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee knows his side must improve if they are to get a positive result in a match that is equally important to the Harambee Stars. While Kenya possess far more individual quality and star power than the Comoros, they were unable to find any rhythm or quality in possession on Wednesday. In particular, Kenya were unable to threaten down where most of their threat lies. With both Cliff Nyakeya and Ayub Timbe possessing bags of pace and trickery 'Ghost' will be looking to free them up more on Sunday. He will also be disappointed with the performances of the midfield trio of Wanyama, Omolo and Johanna. Neither of the holding midfielders of Wanyama and Omolo were able to dominate the midfield and dictate play, and Johanna, playing as a number10 had almost nothing in terms of attacking contributions, even when the Coelacanths went down to 10 men.

Both sides are desperate for the win in a group that realistically has room for one of them to qualify for the Cup of Nations. With only 2 teams qualifying from the group and Egypt sitting behind the two sides but with a game in hand against Togo, both teams are unlikely to stay ahead of the most celebrated team in AFCON history. Both Kenya and Comoros fought for unlikely draws with the North African giants, but Egypt have never failed to qualify for the tournament they have lifted seven times, and so it falls on this game to potentially decide which of the two East African nations will qualify for the tournament.

 

I wrote this article with help from Comorian radio host and journalist Fahadi Said Mchinda. You can find him on radio at HaYba FM.


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