Harambee Stars will be seeking the first ever win against much fancied Mali when the two teams clash in a Fifa 2022 World Cup qualifier in Morocco on Thursday.
The match will be played behind closed doors at the 45,000 capacity Stade Adrar in Agadir from 10pm due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Mali, a team which has featured prominently in the Africa Cup of Nations emerging runners-up in 1972, opted for the game to be played in Morocco due to lack of standard Fifa and Caf approved stadium to host the game.
The two sides have met twice in the African Cup of Nations with Mali winning once and one contest ending in a draw.
Mali beat Stars 3-1 in Tunisia on January 24, 2004 while the two teams drew 1-1 in the 1972 edition in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Notably, Mali has finished third on two occasions and thrice in fourth position in the continental showpiece.
Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo, highly-rated Al Ahly midfielder Aliou Dieng are among the high profile players in the 26-man squad named by coach Mohamed Magassouba for the back-to-back Kenya matches.
The majority of Mali squad comprises players who ply their trade in France, Sweden, Germany and Portugal with only Mohammed Niare and Hamidou Sinayoko playing in the local Malian Premier League.
Only Dieng, Djigui Diarra of Young Africans (Yanga), Niaré, Sinayoko and TP Mazembe’s Boss Mounkoro play their football in Africa.
On Tuesday morning, a 25-man squad selected by Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat, members of the technical bench and a host of FKF officials arrived in Rabat, Morocco.
It was a nine-hour journey on a chartered plane which flew from Nairobi to Rabat via Chad.
“We have arrived safely and will embark on a few training sessions before the game. We are full house and anticipating for a win in this tough match,” said a member of the technical bench who travelled with the team.
Defender Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma who plays for AIK in the Swedish top tier league, KAA Gent defender Joseph Okumu and Spain-based Ismael Gonzalez have linked up with the team in Morocco.
Stars will hold their last training session in the match venue Wednesday evening ahead of the must-win match which Stars have to reap maximum points to proceed to the final round of the qualifiers where five winners will head to Qatar in June next year.
Mali lead Group “E” on four points while Kenya and Uganda have two points each after recording two draws in their first two qualifiers.
Rwanda will also host Uganda in another Group “E” clash. The Amavubi have a point from their 1-1 draw with Kenya on September 5 after losing 1-0 away to Mali on September 1.
Djigui Diarra (Young Africans), Bosso Mounkoro (TP Mazembe), Mohamed Niare (Stade Malien), Ismael Diarra (Malmo)
Massadio Haidara ( Lens), Aboubacar Kouyate (Metz), Falaye Sacko (Guimaraes), Hamari Traore, (Rennes), Moussa Sissako (Standard Liege), Senou Coulibaly (Dijon), Boubakar “Kiki” Kouyaté (Metz), Mamadou Fofana (Amiens)
Diadie Samassekou (Hoffenheim), Cheick Oumar Doucoure (RC Lens), Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig), Lassana Coulibaly (Salernitana), Mohamed Camara (Red Bull Salzburg), Adama Traore (Hatayspor), Aliou Dieng (Al Ahly), Kouame Nguessan (Troyes), Yves Bissouma (Brighton)
Moussa Djenepo (Southampton), Moussa Doumbia (Reims), Adama Traoré (Sheriff Tiraspol), Kevin Zohi (Vizela), Ibrahima Koné (Sarpsborg), El Bilal Toure (Reims), Kalifa Coulibaly (FC Nantes), Mahamadou Doucoure (Nimes)