The drumbeats of war roared louder in Nairobi on Monday, with Kenya’s Commissioner for Sports, Gordon Oluoch stating emphatically that the Harambee Stars would defeat the Super Eagles 1-0 in Wednesday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Oluoch, who works with Sports Minister, Dr. Hassan Wario, said at a public function that he had no doubt the Stars, who earned a 1-1 draw against the Africa champions in Calabar on March 23, would triumph.
Publicity for Wednesday’s game has been at a premium in the East African nation, even as most analysts believe their team has its work cut out trying to stop the Super Eagles.
However, aside the fact that history is heavily skewed against them, the Harambee Stars would definitely struggle against Nigeria on Wednesday.
They miss four of their top guns, including goalkeeper Arnold Origi, and reserve goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng has not inspired confidence since the team started camping in Naivasha and moved to Nairobi on Sunday.
On the other hand, the Kenyan camp has become depressed that midfielder John Mikel Obi was on his way to Nairobi after missing the friendly against Mexico in Texas at the weekend. They actually thought he was not coming for the game.
Chelsea FC of England ace Obi was instrumental to Nigeria’s 3-2 defeat of the Stars at the same venue on November 14, 2009 – a result that sent the Super Eagles to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
The midfield lubricator flew into Nairobi aboard a British Airways flight on Monday evening, hours ahead of the rest of the delegation that was being expected from Frankfurt around 1.30am on Tuesday.
Government sources say Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta or Vice President William Ruto would be special guest of honour at the big match.
On Sunday evening, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Akin Oyateru flew into Nairobi from official assignment abroad. He quickly welcomed the advance party of the Nigeria Football Federation and instructed mission staff to provide the team with full support.
A source close to the Football Kenya Federation stated on Monday that tight security is being put in place for the match, with more than 1,500 policemen to be on duty at the Moi International Sports Centre.
NFF’s advance party on Monday frowned at the 680 Hotel reserved for the Super Eagles. The hotel is right in the centre of town with so much noise around it. The Nigeria Football Federation and the Nigeria High Commission are working on alternative accommodation for the
Already, the FKF has made arrangement for the Eagles to train at the Moi International Sports Centre at 4pm on Tuesday, but would be willing to allow them there should Coach Stephen Keshi prefer a morning work-out, according to FKF President, Sam Nyamweya.
The pre-match meeting is scheduled for the Bulemart Hotel at 7pm on Tuesday, even as the match officials, led by Ivorian referee Noumandiez Doue arrived in Nairobi on Monday.
NFF President, Aminu Maigari is expected to lead a delegation from Nigeria aboard a Kenyan Airways flight on Tuesday afternoon, Ademola Olajire, Assistant Director, Media stated.