Kenya national team coach Jacob Mulee has praised the progress made by South Sudan after the two nations met in a friendly match this past weekend as they prepare for the last games of the AFCON qualifiers.
Kenya came out on top of the Shining Stars in what was a tight encounter at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi on Saturday. The game ended 1-0 with Elvis Rupia scoring the winner.
The Harambee Stars have an extremely difficult tie against Egypt at home and will then travel to Togo for their final two Group G matches of the AFCON qualifiers.
South Sudan, on the other hand, are in Group B and will face Malawi at home before traveling to Burkina Faso.
“It was a tough game because South Sudan have really made huge strides forward in recent years,” Mulee said.
“They are a good team and [in the 1-0 win over Uganda] in the [Africa Cup of Nations] qualifiers they showed it.
“Rupia was lively from the first whistle. He has pushed himself well from the start and I am happy he managed to score.
“If maybe, he would have come off without scoring, maybe it might have lowered his confidence.
“He scored at a crucial time, when we were about to substitute him, but the good thing is that we won and I am happy it happened so.”
Kenya’s head coach added, “I am satisfied with what I saw considering the fact that some players were making their debut and being an international match they have done well.”
Kenya have an outside chance of qualifying for the AFCON finals and in order to do so, they need to pull off a miracle by beating the mighty Egyptians, and even then, they will not be guaranteed a place into the AFCON finals.
Egypt and Comoros occupy the top 2 spots in Group G with 8 points each while Kenya sit in 3rd place, 5 points behind with just 2 games to play. Their only hope of qualifying is winning both games and hoping that Comoros somehow lose to Togo as well.
South Sudan, on the other hand, are last in their group (Group B). They just have 1 win as they upset Uganda who were favourites to top the group. The Cranes are still favourites to go through but sit in 2nd place, 1 point behind group leaders – Burkina Faso.