Kenya's Harambee Stars will have to overturn a 1-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Burundi yesterday if they are to move into the next stage of the African Nations Championships (CHAN).
A defensive mix up in the 28th minute allowed Lofty Naseems men to score the all important goal. With only home-based players to choose from, coach James Nandwa opted for an attacking line-up against the Swallows with Western Stima's danger man Wesley Kemboi spearheading a three-prong attack.
He was baked up by Edwin Lavatsa and Thika United's Francis Kahata at the artificial turf of Stade Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium in Bujumbura yesterday.
Anthony Akumu and James Situma were given the task of marshaling the midfield just in front of the defence manned by AFC Leopards Edwin Wafula, Sofapaka left back Juma Abdallah and the central defence pairing of Eugene Asike and David 'Cheche' Ochieng.
Kemboi, Lavatsa and Kahata were, however, kept on a tight leash and failed to score the all important away goal despite creating several chances.
The result leaves Stars in a dicey situation as they will have to score to restore parity while at the same time keeping the Burundians from scoring.
Stars fly back to Nairobi today and return to camp ahead of the return leg in Nairobi on January 5with the aggregate winner proceeding to the next stage.
Meanwhile, Bandari FC have told off regional Football Kenya Federation (FKF) National Executive member Hussein Terry over his attempts to lure former Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi to train the team in the absence of head coach Rishad Shedu.
The coastal side who regained promotion to the Kenya Premier League said apart from having confidence in Shedu, who worked tirelessly to lift the team from Division One ranks back to the KPL, the management had put in place measures to compensate his absence assuring fans and soccer officials that the team was making good progress.
Speaking yesterday at Mbaraki, Bandari secretary general, Ben Oloo, said Shedu is still instrumental even as he recovers from a left ankle joint surgery he underwent last month.
"He is very much in charge and guides all the programs," he said. "Training can't be grounded because Shedu's absence was expected and therefore planned for well. We have our technical team running the program in consultation with the coach and no-one has business suggesting otherwise. We are in total control of the team," said Oloo.
But when contacted for comment yesterday, Terry said he was 'only making a suggestion' adding that Bandari have the final word over how they are going to cover the absence of the head coach.
"I was only making a suggestion as a concerned soccer official in dire need of seeing the success of Bandari. Otherwise the team has its own way of doing things and therefore have the final say on the whole issue," said Terry.