Egypt will be under pressure to deliver against Kenya in Cairo on Tuesday, when the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification matches begin.
Other teams in Group G are Togo and Comoros, with the top two teams in each of the 12 four-team groups qualifying for the finals in Cameroon.
Kenya’s team of 14 local-based players departed on Monday morning for Cairo confident of picking up a positive result against Egypt. Head coach Francis Kimanzi said 11 foreign-based players will fly directly to Cairo from their respective clubs.
Kenya will play Egypt in their first qualifying match on Thursday in Alexandria, before taking on Togo at home in Nairobi four days later.
Kenya is hopeful of securing back-to-back appearances at Africa’s premier continental football tournament, after qualifying for this year’s edition in Egypt for the first time in 15 years.
“We want all our players firing on all cylinders. I have made some changes because we need to adjust how we play,” said Kimanzi.
Kenya lost 1-0 to Mozambique and drew 1-1 with Uganda in Nairobi in the two friendly matches since Kimanzi took over from Frenchman Sebastian Migne in August.
The two games exposed Kenya’s lack of an attacking threat, but Kimanzi is hopeful he has found a suitable antidote.
The coach will also be able to call upon Ayub Timbe, who plies his trade at Beijing Renhe in the Chinese Super League.
Timbe opted out of the last match with Mozambique after his club requested he stay in Beijing.
“Timbe is back and hopes he will boost the morale and speed of the team,” said Kimanzi.
The coach has also recalled John Avire back to the team to join Japan-based Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol), Jesse Were (Zesco United, Zambia) and John Mark Makwatta.
“I have been in constant communication with Avire’s teams. Even though he has not been playing, the information I get from him and his team is that he is in a good condition, otherwise, I would not even have considered him,” said Kimanzi.
“Avire has experience and I hope if he plays for us his fortunes will change,” he said.