Diminutive Harambee Stars midfielder Francis Kahata is bothered by gigantic Senegalese players ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C clash on July 2.
The creative midfielder stopped short of declaring the tie an impossible task for Kenya. Kahata, who spoke exclusively to People Sport on the eve of the team’s departure to France for a three-week boot camp, however, deems Algeria and neighbours Tanzania manageable physically.
Kenya will play Senegal in the last group fixture after meeting Algeria on June 23 and Tanzania on June 27.
Most of the Senegalese players average a height of six-foot and four inches and will be aerially impossible to stop for players of Kahata’s size.
To show just how difficult it will be for Kahata and co, the Teranga Lions’ first-choice centre-backs Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane both stand six-foot-five inches.
“We will be ready for the tournament and we have weighed our chances going to Egypt. Senegal pose a very unique threat in that they are hugely built and play an extremely physical game. That will pose a problem not just to us but to any other opponent they meet. So we have three weeks to be ready for a fight,” said Kahata, who played against giant teams in the CAF confederations Cup with Gor Mahia in the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, only five Kenyan players hit the six-foot gauge. Goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, defender Brian Mandela, midfielder Dennis Odhiambo, Ismael Gonzalez and forward Michael Olunga are the tallest in Harambee Stars but are still dwarfed by majority of the giant Senegalese players.
Kahata stands at five-foot-seven while left-back Eric Ouma is two inches shorter. Defenders Joash Onyango, Musa Muhammed and the likes of Paul Were, Cliffton Miheso and Ayub Timbe fall under the five-foot-nine bracket.
Senegal have also named a provisional list of players with priceless experience from last year’s FIFA World Cup and are considered favourites to top the group alongside Algeria.
“They have a wealth of experience that we don’t have but based on what each individual player has achieved from their club, I don’t think the gap is that big. A good and secluded training like the one we are going for can really change much and improve us,” added Kahata.
Kenya’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages of Afcon hinge on their performances in the first two games. The players have bought into coach Sebastian Migne’s idea of securing progress in the first two games.