Fact File: Kenya Vs Tunisia
Match: Kenya (Harambee Star) Vs Tunisia (Carthage Eagles)
Venue: Coca Cola National Stadium
Date: Saturday, Mar 28th 2009
Tickets: Kshs. 1,000 (VIP) & Kshs. 300 (Terraces)
With the 2010 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifiers first match in Group B coming up on 28th March 2009, its time to look at the history between Kenya and Tunisia in recent qualifications of a similar magnitude. While the two will be fighting it out in Nairobi, Group B counterparts Nigeria and Mozambique will be squaring it out in Maputo.
With the top team in the Group making it to the World Cup in 2010 and only the last team missing out on the Africa Cup of Nations, its time to go factual.
Kenya and Tunisia have locked horns five times with Tunisia registering three wins. The other two games has been a win and draw for Kenya. Of the three games played in Nairobi, Kenya has lost once, drawn once and beaten Tunisia once. As it is Kenya and Tunisia play each other more in Rugby (Sevens) than in football.
Kenya first played Tunisia on the 1st of August 1987 during the fifth All-Africa games held in Nairobi. As hosts, Kenya led by German Reinhardt Fabisch fully made use of home ground advantage to beat Tunisia by a solitary goal in the preliminary game.
In 2000, Kenya was placed in Group 3 with Tunisia, Morocco and Gabon for the qualification of the 23rd edition of Africa Cup of Nation that was to be held in Mali in 2002. On 3rd September 2000, and more than 13 years later since the first meeting, Kenya held Tunisia to a barren draw in Nairobi.
The return tie in Tunisia turned into a Kenyan rout as Tunisia went on to win 4-1 on 17th June 2001 in Tunisia. Three of the goals for Tunisia came after lanky defender George Waweru was given marching orders in the first half. Robert Mambo (then a sub) and Musa Otieno are the only two players who played against Tunisia and still likely to play them nine years later.
Morocco topped the group but Tunisia as second finishers in the Group also made it to Mali.
World Cup & Egypt 2006
Kenya was once again pooled with Tunisia in Group E for the qualification of the 2006 World Cup (Germany) and Nation Cup (Egypt). Morocco, Guinea, Malawi & Botswana completed the group.
Kenya lost 1-0 in Tunisia on 17th August 2005 in Rades. Of the players in the current squad named to face Tunisia, Robert Mambo, McDonald Mariga, Ben Mwalala and Julius Owino (sub) featured then against Tunisia under Coach Mohamed Kheri. Other Kenyan players in the team were; (Arnold Origi, Edwin Mukenya, Zablon Amanaka, Anthony Mathenge, Titus Mulama, Ali Mohamed, Bonaventure Maruti, Moses Gitau, Subs; Francis Onyiso, Evans Orodi, Mark Sirengo, Benjamin Buzuka & Collins Tiego)
The return tie played at an empty Nyayo National Stadium (120 spectators were allowed to watch this game due to security lapse in an earlier Morocco game – 1 fan died) ended 2-0 in favor of Tunisia. From the current squad, Robert Mambo, McDonald Mariga, Ben Mwalala (sub) and Musa Otieno featured in that game. Others were; Arnold Origi, Edwin Mukenya, Evans Orodi, Zablon Amanaka, Adam Shaban, Titus Mulama, Ali Mohamed Abdalla, Mark Sirengo and Subs; Francis Onyiso, Edgar Ochieng, John Barasa, Jeff Oyando & Hussein Abdurazak). On the other hand, Tunisia only has Ali Zitouni & Radhi Jaidi in the current squad from the team that played Kenya in 2005.
While Tunisia finished top of the group to head for the World Cup (and Nation Cup), Morocco and Guinea beat Kenya for the other Nation Cup slots.
Mambo in a friendly game against Nigeria in 2007. Mambo has played all four games against Tunisia since 2000.
Rankings – Africa & World
By all measure, Tunisia is a much higher ranked Nation compared to Kenya. As per the last three Months World rankings Tunisia has been placed 45 (Jan 09), 53 (Feb 09) and now at 54 (Mar 09). Africa-wise, Tunisia is placed in the top ten – at ninth behind Guinea but ahead of Senegal.
Kenya was placed 84 (Jan 09), and 96 (both Feb and Mar 09). In Africa Kenya is ranked 18 places behind Tunisia – at 27, just ahead of Ethiopia but a position behind DR Congo.
World Cup & Nation Cup qualifications
While Kenya will be chasing a first World Cup appearance, Tunisia will be chasing a record fifth appearance after 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006.
Tunisia will also be seeking a 14th Africa cup of Nations appearance while Kenya will be seeking a sixth appearance. Tunisia hosted the Nations Cup in 2004 and won it for the first time ever. Kenya’s last adventure at the Nations Cup was in 2004 edition in Tunisia.
Run up to third round - Home, Away record
In the second round of the 2010 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifiers, Kenya won all its home games beating Guinea and Zimbabwe by similar 2-0 scores and a 1-0 win over Namibia. Kenya lost twice away (2-1 to Namibia and 3-2 to Guinea) and managed a draw - nil nil against Zimbabwe. With 10 points, Kenya made it out of Group 2 as second best behind Guinea who had 11 points.
On the other hand, Tunisia had two crucial away wins (Burundi 1-0 and Seychelles 2-0). The third game was a 0-0 draw at Burkina Faso. Two of the home games resulted in wins – 2-1 against Burundi and a 5-0 win against Seychelles. The first home game in the qualifiers was a shock 2-1 loss to Burkina Faso. Like Kenya, Tunisia finished second but on 13 points - three points behind Burkina Faso.
Kenya and Tunisia qualified for the third round amongst the eight best runners-up. In comparison, while Kenya scored eight goals and conceded five, Tunisia scored 11 goals and conceded only three.
Since 1962, both Kenya and Tunisia have featured in several World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers with varied statistics.
Of Kenya’s 64 qualification games, home wins have been 36 (56.25%), 16 draws (25%) and 12 losses (18.75%).
Tunisia has featured in a total of 74 qualification games managing 23 away wins (31.1%), 22 away draws (29.7%) and 29 away losses (39.2%).
While Kenya will bank on its near-impressive home statistics, Tunisia will be looking at their away stats.
Kenya’s six-game second round was handled by Francis Kimanzi who has since been replaced. With a new dispensation in German Antoine Hey, near-wholesome changes in the squad that breezed through the second round are expected to be seen.
Tunisia on the hand has the same coach who took them through the second round - Humberto Manuel de Jesus Coelho (Humberto Coelho), a predecessor to Roger Lemmere who was dismissed in Feb of 2008. Some form of continuity in the team from the second round is very much expected.
During a recent FIFA friendly date – Feb 11th, Tunisia assembled its best troops for a friendly game at Rades against Holland. The game ended 1-1.
Kenya missed out on a friendly on that day but managed one on March 14th in Tehran Iran. The Harambee Stars squad that was made up of home based players fell 1-0 to hosts Iran.
Oboya in a game against Guinea in June 08. He is expected to play a key role against Tunisia.
Players to watch
Radhi Jaidi, 33, Tunisia (Birmingham, England) – With a 102 caps for Tunisia, the 6 foot 4 – with 404 league appearances for Espérance, Bolton Wanderers & now Birmingham is a seen-it-all-defender. Jaidi is the kingpin for Tunisia and the giant to avoid.
Ali Zitouni, 27, (Antalyaspor, Turkey) – with no Brazilian born Dos Santos, Zitouni – a former Espérance danger man is expected to take the lead striking role. Described as ‘fast and daring’, the Turkish based striker is expected to leave the Kenyan defense in ‘sixes’. Zitouni scored twice and had an assist in the 4-1 rout against Kenya on 17th June 2001 at Rades.
Dennis Oliech, 23, (Auxerre, France) – Kenya’s striker per excellence and undoubtedly the most prolific for Harambee Stars in recent times. With Oliech present for Kenya, chances of Kenya getting the much needed goals increase many fold. Oliech has the pace and the power that leaves any defense circumspect of his presence.
McDonald Mariga, 21, (Parma, Italy) – Always has been on the upward. Mariga has become a must player for Harambee Stars after an improved performance from Serie A last season and now in the Serie B for Parma. Having played Tunisia twice before and with the ability to hold on to the ball, shield off a whole defense and a knack for long and precise blockbusters, Mariga is worth not just a watch, but a very close watch.
Apart from the players to watch out for, Tunisia has named a 24 man squad that is preparing to face Kenya while Kenya has named a 25 man squad for the same tie. With the teams expected to be scaled down to 18, each side expect to unleash unknown arsenals on their side with towering 6 foot 2 England born Taiwo Atieno (Rochester Rhinos, US) for Kenya and French born Lassad Nouioui for Tunisia (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain) all strikers, hoping to make their debuts. Kenyan skipper Robert Mambo will come in handy in helping the stars considering he has played all four games for Kenya against Tunisia this decade.
All said and done, factual as it is, the game of soccer in many cases has disrespect for History. Will all the above remain history? Be at Coca Cola National Stadium on Mar 2009. If not, keep it Kenyafootball.com for all the updates.
Goalkeepers: Jassem Khalloufi (Club Sportif Sfaxien), Hamdi Kasraoui (Esperance Sportive de Tunis), Ayem Mathlouthi (Etoile Sportive du Sahel),
Defenders: Khaled Souissi (Club Africain), Radhi Jaidi (Birmingham City, England), Karim Haggui (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Anis Boussaidi (Red Bull Salsburg, Austria), Ammar Jemal (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Yassine Mikari (Sochaux, France), Bilel Iffa (CA), Seif Ghezal (Young Boys Berne, Switzerland), Yamen Ben Zekri (Bastia, France)
Midfielders: Houssine Ragued (Mons, Belgium), Jamel Saihi (Montpellier, France), Aymen Demai (Kaiserslautern, Germany), Karim Nafti (Club Sportif Sfaxien), Fahid Ben Khalfallah (CAEN, France), Tijani Belaid (Slavia Prague, Czech Republic) & Wissem Ben Yahia (Club Africain)
Attack: Sami Allagui (Gruther Feurth, Germany), Lassad Nouioui (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain), Issam Jemaa (Lens, France), Ali Zitouni (Antalyapor, Turkey), Mohamed Ali Ghariani (Club Sportif de Hammam-Lif)
Goal keepers; Noah Ayuko (Sher Karuturi), Wilson Oburu (Sofapaka), David Okello (Thika United) & Willis Ochieng (IFK Mariehamn, Finland)
Defenders: Mulinge Munandi (Ulinzi Stars), John Njoroge, Jockins Atudo, Joseph Shikokoti, (All Tusker), George Owino (Yanga), Julius Owino (Gor Mahia), Pascal Ochieng (KCB)
Midfielders: Hillary Echesa (Deltras Sidoarjo, Indonesia), Victor Mugabe (Germinal Beerschot, Belgium), Macdonald Mariga (Parma, Italy), Musa Otieno (Cleveland City Stars, US), Robert Mambo (GIF Sundsvall, Sweden)
Strikers: Dennis Oliech (Auxerre, France - pictured left), Allan Wanga (Petro de Luanda, Angola), Patrick Oboya (FK Banik Most, Czech Republic), Peter Opiyo (Gor Mahia), Fred Ajwang (Tusker), Taiwo Atieno (Rochester Rhinos, US), Evans Wandera (Sofapaka), Boniface Ambani, Bernard Mwalala (Young Africans, Tanzania), Francis Ouma
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