Oliech – “We cannot afford to lose”
Kenya captain Dennis Oliech has said failure to qualify for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations would be a huge setback for the younger players in the national team. The Harambee Stars face Togo in Lome on Sunday in the second leg qualifier of the second round with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg. On their way to Togo, the team spent three days in Accra (Ghana) to wrap up preparations and the AJ Auxerre forward tells Cafonline.com they are poised for the clash. Below are details of his interview with Cafonline.com;
Cafonline.com: What is your level of preparation for the game?
Dennis Oliech: Our preparations are on course. We have been in Accra (Ghana) for three days, training and adapt to the climate. We are adapting very well and rehearsing our strategies as well.
Cafonline.com: How influential has your brief training camp in Accra been for the crucial game with Togo?
Dennis Oliech: It is a step in the right direction as it is important for us to adapt to the climatic conditions, which I hear is similar to that of Togo. It is a good sign and a plus for the Football Kenya Federation. We are hoping things will be smooth and calm when we get to venue of the match.
Cafonline.com: What do you think went wrong in the first leg?
Dennis Oliech: During the first leg, the Togolese played five defenders behind because Prince Segbefia (my club-mate at AJ Auxerre) had given them much information about me. It was difficult to get space. For the second leg, they will open up since there will be under pressure to score. This will create some spaces in their defence from which I hope to score through a “killer-pass” from my colleagues.
Cafonline.com: What do you make of your chances?
Dennis Oliech: We stand a good chance. However, we have to strategize very well and score an early goal, which will mean Togo scoring at least three or four to go through. Also, we have to remain focused and keep a clean sheet especially in the first half since we will go through if the game ends barren. I remember in 2002, we beat Togo 3-1 at home, lost 3-0 away and that ended our dreams of qualification.
Cafonline.com: Do you think you have the men to deliver?
Dennis Oliech: From the rankings, Togo is above Kenya, but football follows no logic. It’s sad we will be missing a strong character like McDonald Mariga, who has been a key part of this campaign. However, his brother, Victor Wanyama who plays for Celtic (Scotland) is available and we expect him to make up for the absence of Mariga. We also have other strong, talented and quality players in the team, who can help us achieve the expected result. Our focus will make the difference and also fight hard.
Cafonline.com: A defeat will mean Kenya missing out on the Africa Cup of Nations once again since 2004. How are you hoping to avoid that?
Dennis Oliech: If we loose, we will be out for the next two years as far as the Africa Cup of Nations is concerned. It won’t be good for us; hence we cannot afford to lose this game. Defeat will serve a blow to this generation of Kenyan players, aspiring to play abroad. As a veteran and captain, I will do my best to help the team qualify. Being the longest serving player in the team (having played since 2002), I have to bring my experience to bear on the pitch and dish out a 200-percent performance to help the team’s cause.
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