Football

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga optimistic despite setbacks in World Cup qualifiers

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Kenya registered back to back draw against Burundi and Ivory Coast in 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Michael Olunga, the captain of the Kenya national football team, Harambee Stars  says there is still hope for the team after two consecutive draws against Burundi and Ivory Coast.

Speaking to Flashscore, the Al Duhail striker said that despite the setback in the World Cup qualifiers against Burundi, the team was fully prepared and gave it all in the match against Ivory Coast.

"We told ourselves that the Burundi game was in the past and we needed to focus, and the players responded well. We knew Ivory Coast wanted two wins from their two matches, so we knew it wouldn't be easy, but all the players showed up; at least each player covered over 10 kilometres during the game; it shows you the effort we put in and got something from the game. It was a huge effort from the players; we had to sacrifice for the team and the country."

Olunga added that Haramabee Stars could have easily won the game against Burundi f only they had utilised their chances well.

"It is a match that we could have easily won against Burundi. Unfortunately, we also dropped points against Ivory Coast, despite the fact that the players gave everything and gave the African champions a run for their money. The encouraging factor is that the team spirit is very positive, and I'm sure we will soon get there," said the Al Duhail striker.

The two consecutive draws left Kenya in fourth place with only five points in Group F. The group consists of six teams, with Ivory Coast leading the table with 10 points, Gabon with 9 points, Burundi with 7 points, Gambia with 3 points and the Seychelles in sixth with 0 points.

Despite Olunga`s hopes, only one team topping their respective 9 groups will earn a place in the 2026 FIFA World Cup automatically. Harambee Stars played the two games in Malawi due to the lack of FIFA-approved stadiums in the country, a situation that Olunga has raised concerns about with the government.

“It is not good at all to take our matches away from home and deny the fans a chance to cheer on the team they love. The government needs to track renovations of the stadium and build new facilities in order to avoid such cases in the future. We also need to ensure we are ready for AFCON 2027 as soon as possible in terms of the necessary infrastructure,” added Olunga.

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