Win or lose against Senegal, Harambee Stars are well placed to qualify for the round of 16 in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. In the previous 5 appearances at the Cup of Nations, the national team has never made it past the group stage. We are therefore staring at a(n) historic moment for the country.
There are 6 group in this year’s tournament, and each group has 4 teams. The top 2 teams will qualify for the round of 16, PLUS 4 third placed teams.
Kenya currently occupies the third spot in Group C. Today we play Senegal who are placed second in the same group.
What are the options for Kenya?
The easiest and safest option is to beat Senegal. That will be a guaranteed and majestic entry into the round of 16.
There are 6 teams with a chance to play in the round of 16 as the 4 best 3rd placed teams. Guinea (4 points), D.R. Congo (3 points) South Africa (3 points), Kenya (3 points), Benin (2 points), and Angola (2 points)
Guinea and D.R.Congo are through with their group stage matches, so they cannot claim additional points.
The other 4 teams have a game in hand, with a remaining schedule as follows:
Kenya Vs Senegal
Benin Vs Cameroon
Angola Vs Mali
South Africa Vs Morocco.
If Kenya draws against Senegal, the team will finish with 4 points. The only way Kenya doesn’t qualify in this scenario is if the following happens:
1. South Africa draws/wins vs Morocco.
2. Benin beats Cameroon
3. Angola beats Mali.
Any result other than the above will have Kenya in round of 16.
What if Kenya loses against Senegal. Well, then all Kenyans will have to kaza rasa. Kenya will still qualify if:
1. Angola loses vs Mali. A draw will see Angola through
2. Benin loses vs Cameroon. A draw will see Benin through.
My gut tells me no way Angola beats Mali, and no way, no how Benin beats Cameroon. Kenya will be in the round of 16.